SCIENCE SALON # 132
Michael Shermer with Leonard Mlodinow — Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics
One of the most influential physicists of our time, Stephen Hawking touched the lives of millions. Recalling his nearly two decades as Hawking’s collaborator and friend, Leonard Mlodinow brings this complex man into focus in a unique and deeply personal portrayal. We meet Hawking the genius, who employed his mind to uncover the mysteries of the universe — ultimately formulating a pathbreaking theory of black holes that reignited the discipline of cosmology and paved the way for physicists to investigate the origins of the universe in completely new ways. We meet Hawking the colleague, a man whose illness leaves him able to communicate at only six words per minute but who expends the effort to punctuate his conversations with humor. And we meet Hawking the friend, who could convey volumes with a frown, a smile, or simply a raised eyebrow. Modinow puts us in the room as Hawking indulges his passion for wine and curry; shares his feelings on love, death, and disability; and grapples with deep questions of philosophy and physics. This deeply affecting account of a friendship teaches us not just about the nature and practice of physics but also about life and the human capacity to overcome daunting obstacles. Shermer and Mlodinow discuss:
- what it was like working with Stephen Hawking,
- what Stephen Hawking was like as a person and personality,
- Hawking’s place in the pantheon of great physicists in the history of science,
- Hawking’s major contributions to physics,
- What is grand about the grand design of the universe?
- model dependent realism and the philosophy of science,
- Can we ever know reality?
- Why is there something rather than nothing?
- What caused the Big Bang to bang?
- What there was before time began?
- Why does the universe look fine-tuned and designed?
- Is the universe itself a giant black hole?
- Did the universe begin in a singularity?
- Hawking’s beliefs about God and why the concept isn’t necessary to explain the universe.
Leonard Mlodinow received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of California, Berkeley, was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute, and was on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology. His previous books include the best sellers The Grand Design and A Briefer History of Time (coauthored with Stephen Hawking), Subliminal (winner of the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award), and War of the Worldviews (with Deepak Chopra), as well as Elastic, Euclid’s Window, Feynman’s Rainbow, and The Upright Thinkers.
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Skeptic Magazine 25.3 (2020), What Science Says About Race, explores whether race evolved, or whether it is a social construct. Plus: The Pope and Mussolini; Harriet Hall, M.D. on wearing face masks; Junior Skeptic on Pandemics Throughout History; Hollow Earth; Wicked Games: Lance Armstrong and Doping; Finding Meaning and Purpose Without Religion; A Naturalist Model for Reducing Speciesism, Racism, and Bigotry; What Moby-Dick Can Teach Us About the Current Pandemic Crisis; Is Science Amoral?; Faked Death Stories and Resurrection Myths; How Religions Use the Threat of Punishment to Terrify, Manipulate, and Control Believers; Reviews of Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress, and The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, The Academy, and the Hunt for Political Heresies; and more…
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JUNIOR SKEPTIC # 76 (FREE PDF!)
Plagued by Nonsense — Pandemics Throughout History: How Mistakes, Fakes, and Missing Facts Make Epidemics Worse
In this issue of Junior Skeptic, we’ll confront one of humanity’s scariest enemies: epidemic disease. Are we brave enough to face this horror? You bet we are! We’ve done it every day during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Covid is new. Other diseases have plagued our ancestors since ancient times. Mighty civilizations have been devastated by the invisible invaders we call “germs.” But people are not helpless! Over centuries, we learned how to fight back against disease. Our strongest weapons are science and critical thinking. However, germs have a powerful ally: misinformation! How do ignorance and bad ideas help the germs win—and what can we do about that? Let’s find out!
Junior Skeptic — an engagingly illustrated science and critical thinking publication for younger readers (and the young at heart) — is physically bound within each and every issue of Skeptic magazine. About 30 Junior Skeptic back issues are also available as single downloadable PDFs at an amazing price! There are also several complete issues that may be downloaded for free!