Tag Archives: Science

Rest in Peace, Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking in 2006. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

I’m assuming all of my readers heard this news yesterday, but the famous physicist Stephen Hawking is dead.

The world is a dimmer and sadder place without him. I doubt any of his friends and loved ones will read this, but I’d like to extend my sincere condolences to them if they do.

A Brief History of Time was one of my all-time favourite pop-science reads. The only science classes I took in high school were Biology and Chemistry, so he was my first introduction to Cosmology and Physics.

He explained everything so clearly and concisely in the things he wrote for a general audience. By far the best part of A Brief History of Time in particular was the section on black holes. Mr. Hawking’s theories about how they worked and why it’s actually possible for some material to escape a black hole blew my mind.

It sounded like something from a science fiction novel, yet it was happening in our universe and it could be explained in purely scientific terms. There’s something special about touching the far reaches of current human knowledge like that.

Not every physicist is capable of explaining his or her work so well to people who have little to no understanding of what physics is about or how physicists are slowing figuring out more and more details about how the universe works and how it began.

In 2014, Stephen Hawking asked science fiction writers to incorporate his ideas about imaginary time into their stories.  To the best of my knowledge, no one has taken him up on that challenge yet.

(If any of my readers know of any plausible hard science fiction books, movies, or TV shows that are based on Stephen Hawking’s work, do mention them in the comment section below! Everything I could find online about this topic involved soft science fiction like Futurama or Doctor Who.

Mr. Hawking, thank you for everything you did for the scientific community. Thank you for inspiring generations of science fiction authors, too. May you rest in peace.

I’ll end this post with a quote from Mr. Hawking himself:

It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there. Be curious.

 

A Tale of Six Pies

six pies
Photo credit: Alpha.

I have two basic kinds of dreams: ordinary ones about the somewhat-boring things everyone has to do in life and and pulse-pounding, action-adventure tales where I narrowly outrun zombies, ghosts, or other malevolent forces. (Sometimes I don’t outrun them, of course, and then I get to see what life is like as a sci-fi monster. But I digress).

Then there is my bizarrely specific dream about buying pies from a few nights ago. How many pies, you ask? Six of them, and each one a different flavour.

What two adults with small-to-moderate appetites could be expected to do with so many pies before they grew stale remains to be seen, but dream-me was thrilled with what I’d picked up at the grocery store. I thought we’d start with the lemon meringue, and then move onto the chocolate one that looked a lot like this festive pie pictured above. Just before I woke up, I was imagining how content we’d feel with bellies full of pie. It was the nicest thing I could possibly think of at the time.

This was one of those dreams that  took me a moment or two to separate from reality when I woke up. Did we really have six pies sitting on the counter in the kitchen? No, thank goodness. Our kitchen was as pie-free as it ever is.

The dream has stuck with me, though, as I wonder what could have caused it. I’m not craving this type of dessert. I haven’t actually been craving many sweets at all. If I were going to eat them, Halloween candy would be closer to what I’d want at this time of year. There are only so many weeks when you can get certain types of it, after all!

I wish there were more scientific studies about what dreams mean. Almost everything I’ve found on this topic is infused with woo or spiritual beliefs that I don’t share. Those interpretations are great for people who believe in those things, but I’d love to see someone come up with explanations that don’t rely on them.

If I ever win the lottery or sell so many books that I become independently wealthy, I’m going to study this as scientifically as I possibly can. My theory is that the emotions we feel when we’re dreaming are far more important than the content of the dreams themselves.

I’ve had peaceful dreams about zombies and terrifying dreams about something as simple as trying to find a clean, dry, available toilet in a building that seems to contain everything else in the entire world but that.

What odd things have you been dreaming about lately? How do you interpret them?

And more importantly, has this post made you crave pie? 🙂