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Thoughts on Stephen Hawking

The word “intellectual” has become a dirty one in our culture, and scientists, artists and academics suspect. But there is no greatness in this world without great thinking.

Stephen Hawking – the transcendent English theoretical physicist, cosmologist and mathematician, who died Wednesday, March 14 at age 76 after battling motor neuron disease his entire adult life – had, of course, a great mind, one that bridged Einstein and quantum theory...

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Of Stephen Curry and Stephen Hawking: Sports and destiny

There are few more intriguing themes in journalism and literature than that of the brilliant loser – the superb racer who for a variety of reasons fails to meet expectations, be it runners Zola Budd and Mary Decker, speed skater Dan Jansen or Thoroughbreds Spectacular Bid, California Chrome and, most recently, Nyquist; the juggernaut so dominant in the regular season and so vulnerable in the playoffs (the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors battling the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA playoffs); and, most heartbreaking of all, the “perfect” performer who finds that perfection elusive when needed most (Serena Williams against Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the US Open last year; Novak Djokovic against Stan Wawrinka in the finals of the French Open last year; and, my favorite ...

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Pluto: Fire and ice

The Pluto flyby has shown us how well the little planet that could is served by its name. Pluto was the Roman god of the underworld (Hades in Greek), whose queen, Proserpina (Persephone) spent spring and summer with her mother, the earth goddess Demeter, in the upper world, and fall and winter with her gloomily handsome hubby, the lord of the dead. Indeed, this arrangement was the reason we have spring and summer, when the earth is recalled to life and warmth, and fall and winter, when the earth dies coldly to itself.

Pluto the planet has icy mountains and geological activity, suggesting heat somewhere at some point:

“That leaves rethinking how thermodynamics apply at the dwarf planet,” Mika McKinnon writes. ...

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