On the occasion of Stephen W. Hawking’s 60th
trip around the sun, we consider a social phenomenon
that reveals something deep about human nature
In 1998 God appeared at Caltech.
More precisely, the scientific equivalent of the deity, in the form of Stephen W. Hawking, delivered a public lecture via his now familiar voice synthesizer. The 1,100-seat auditorium was filled; an additional 400 viewed a video feed in another hall, and hundreds more squatted on the lawn and listened to theater speakers broadcasting this scientific saint’s epistle to the apostles. The lecture was slated for 8 P.M. By three o’clock a line began to snake around the grassy quad adjoining the hall. By five, hundreds of scientists flipped Frisbees and chatted with students from Caltech and other universities. (continue reading…)