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How Stephen Hawking Has Defied the Odds For 50 Years

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the elaborate-put-on dept.

Medicine 495

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Now aged 70, Prof Stephen Hawking, winner of 12 honorary degrees, a CBE and in 2009 awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is an extraordinary man — but what is perhaps most extraordinary about Hawking is how he has defied and baffled medical experts who predicted he had just months to live in 1963, when he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a disease that only 5% survive for more than a decade after diagnosis. Hawking started having symptoms shortly before his 21st birthday. At first they were mild — a bit of clumsiness and few unexplained stumbles and falls but, predictably, by the very nature of the disease, his incurable condition worsened. The diagnosis came as a great shock, but also helped shape his future." (Read on, below.)Pickens continues: "'Although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research, and I got engaged to a girl called Jane Wilde, whom I had met just about the time my condition was diagnosed,' says Hawking. 'That engagement changed my life. It gave me something to live for.' Another important thing in Hawking's life has been his work and at the age of 70, Hawking continues working at the University of Cambridge and recently published a new book — The Grand Design. 'Being disabled, or physically challenged, makes no difference to how my scientific colleagues treat me apart from practical matters like waiting while I write what I want to say.' Finally the grandfather-of-three continues to seek out new challenges and recently experienced first-hand what space travel feels like by taking a zero-gravity flight in a specially modified plane. 'People are fascinated by the contrast between my very limited physical powers, and the vast nature of the universe I deal with,' says Hawking. 'I'm the archetype of a disabled genius, or should I say a physically challenged genius, to be politically correct. At least I'm obviously physically challenged. Whether I'm a genius is more open to doubt.'"

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Best care money can buy helps (5, Informative)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636468)

He also has access to an amazing amount of healthcare. Not many people can afford full time staff to maintain their lives both personally and professionally. He has people so desperate to work with him that they train for years to understand his unique communication.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Insightful)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636482)

Yes, the National Health Service is wonderful.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (1)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636496)

I don't believe you're correct that NHS pays for his full time help...

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636524)

I don't know about the UK and the NHS, but at least in Germany, he would be considered Pflegestufe III (support level III, more than 300 mins per day necessary, including necessary support between 10pm and 6am), and it would be fully covered by the (mandantory) support insurance.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636646)

I don't know about the UK and the NHS, but at least in Germany, he would be considered Pflegestufe III (uselessness level III, euthanasia required), and it would be fully covered by the (mandantory) jews and undesirables registry.

FTFY

Re:Best care money can buy helps (0)

mike2R (721965) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636682)

How witty and original.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Insightful)

Night64 (1175319) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636720)

It's funny when americans are faced with public healthcare systems that work. Actually, it's not funny, it's sad.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (2, Funny)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636824)

If you think NHS is a pillar example of public healthcare system that works you are hugely mistaken. I am a big believer in socialized medicine,but NHS is not a great one...

Re:Best care money can buy helps (4, Insightful)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636904)

I don't think he was saying it was perfect or great. He said it worked. No system is perfect. You just try for better, and sometimes you get it. Depending on the competition, sometimes it's not even that hard to get.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636916)

But even a not-great one routinely outperforms the US system. There are horror stories to be found in both, but they're a lot easier to find in the US.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Interesting)

Anonymus (2267354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637008)

I wish I had mod points to mod you up, because that's a very succinct way of putting it.

I've lived both inside and outside of the US, and in my experience nearly every medical story that takes places in the US is a horror story that ends in pain, bankruptcy, disability, or death, while most stories coming from elsewhere are merely horror stories about inconvenience, delays, or the occasional mistake.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637044)

If you think NHS is a pillar example of public healthcare system that works you are hugely mistaken. I am a big believer in socialized medicine,but NHS is not a great one...

Well, let's ask Steven Hawkings about the NHS [telegraph.co.uk] himself then, shall we?

I would not be alive without the NHS

Seems clear enough to me...

Re:Best care money can buy helps (4, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636892)

What's sad is when I see people of all stripes debating against public healthcare, forgetting that they're condemning future thinkers or leaders or writers just because they (or their families) can't afford their own healthcare.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Insightful)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637002)

And if you explain that these system cost *less* than what we currently spend as a country on healthcare everyone ignores it and continues ranting on about entitlement and welfare and other bullshit divisive issues ingrained in their feeble minds.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636576)

No, it's true it's basically all NHS.

Hawking: I would not be alive without the NHS (5, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637156)

Stephen Hawking: I would not be alive without the NHS [telegraph.co.uk] . This was his response to the amusing mistake by U.S. financial newspaper Investor's Business Daily, which claimed that Stephen Hawking was American, and that if Stephen Hawking were British, he would be dead.

The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing, and the health consequences thereof, are legendary," read a recent editorial from the paper. "The stories of people dying on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror script...

"People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."

Stephen Hawking both British and not dead [theregister.co.uk] .

Re:Best care money can buy helps (0, Flamebait)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636614)

Sure, if you are Stephen Hawking, but if he was just an ordinary bloke they would have put him on the Liverpool Care Pathway some time back (oh, and no need to mention this fact to the patient or his family).

Re:Best care money can buy helps (3, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636772)

Yep, universal healthcare is pretty awesome.

I wonder how would a young 21 year old academic with ALS fare in the USA.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (4, Insightful)

KeithJM (1024071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637178)

Actually, he'd probably do fine -- US universities generally have great benefits for their employees (good health insurance policies) and tend to be pretty flexible with sick leave for professors. My dad had a brain tumor and took 2 years of sick leave without any discussion of long-term disability, etc. There was another professor who had long-term kidney failure who basically gave a couple of lectures each semester for a decade and wasn't pressured to do more than that.

If you have health insurance, the US system is hard to beat.

The better question would be how would a young blue-collar worker with ALS fare. He would be completely screwed.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637166)

I thought that he's been at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario Canada for the last few years? If so, then Health Canada has made a contribution.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636498)

There's something more here about his disease - I'm sorry the article doesn't really seem to go into it. Why, in particular, has he not had more significant diaphragmatic involvement leading to the respiratory failure that is typically seen at the end of life with ALS? I'm really glad he has an atypical case, but the money aspect pales in comparison to the luck he has with how his disease has progressed.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636996)

Agreed.

My first thought is, was he misdiagnosed or have a variant of the disease that has not been described yet.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (2)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636526)

Guy's done what's required to warrant obscene amounts of care being provided to him. He's offered value in return for it in the form of cash and his sick smart brain.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (4, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636632)

Guy's done what's required to warrant obscene amounts of care being provided to him. He's offered value in return for it in the form of cash and his sick smart brain.

Yes, that, and being born in the UK where he would receive a similar level of care if he were a penniless dolt.

In the U.S. cash and societal value might make the difference of live or die, for him.

In most of the "developing world," he would have to have been born into the richest of families to even hope for basic medical care that would have kept him alive.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Informative)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637086)

In the US, being poor and/or elderly makes it easier to get health care. Medicare/Medicaid covers a lot.

If Hawkings decided to take a job tomorrow in the US at some university, group health care would likely provide similar care to what he has now. Even before the recent laws, group health for large organizations paid for preexisting conditions.

It's folks that aren't poor but don't get benefits from other sources that are left out in the US. The poor and the elderly already have socialize medicine.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636536)

>He also has access to an amazing amount of healthcare.

True. But after 50 years with that disease I think the luck-factor is even more amazing.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636544)

Somebody else mentioned the "privileged care" angle to me earlier this week.

Though it may be true Hawking has better access to care than others today, when he was diagnosed at 21 I doubt anyone was falling all over themselves to work with yet another young academic struck ill. It is nothing short of astounding that he has survived (without a respirator) in the face of ALS, and equally astounding that his will to continue working in the face of losing all motor control has not been fazed.

No discredit to his staff a medical team, which I'm sure must be very able. He's beaten the odds against death, lost control of his physical body, and continued to do pioneering science work in the face of it. Those facets of Hawking have less to do with his current level of access to care, and more to do with his DNA and courage.

Really, amazing dude.

Desperate people .... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636556)

Not many people can afford full time staff to maintain their lives both personally and professionally. He has people so desperate to work with him that they train for years to understand his unique communication.

That's what grad students are for!

Re:Desperate people .... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636930)

Not many people can afford full time staff to maintain their lives both personally and professionally. He has people so desperate to work with him that they train for years to understand his unique communication.

That's what grad students are for!

At age 21, you are a grad student - barely.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Informative)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636610)

He also has access to an amazing amount of healthcare. Not many people can afford full time staff to maintain their lives both personally and professionally. He has people so desperate to work with him that they train for years to understand his unique communication.

Money and people who care do help, but a neighbor of mine came down with a related disease 3 years ago, she died 1 year ago, and not for lack of a caring family with the resources to do anything possible.

When your diaphragm is paralyzed, it's over, or at least very unpleasant to continue. Hawking has been unusually lucky that his disease did not spread to basic autonomic, or extensive cognitive functions, as it all too often does.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (2)

ard (115977) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636718)

In Sweden, this is standard health care. Well, maybe not the most expensive equipment, but what is deemed required, along with nursing.

Severly disabled persons can even be nursed in their homes, 24x7, by their relatives, getting an average salary by the state. This costs the tax payers million SEKs a year, per disabled person (~USD $120k), covering three full time "employees" (3x8 hours=24 hours).

One of the reasons why we have some of the highest taxes in the world.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636952)

wtf? The government pays people to breastfeed their severly disabled relatives? Damn, I thought German shit porn was weird. That's just fucked up.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636962)

And, probably in the grand scheme of things, although a single person like him may be expensive, in total the amount of healthcare tax money being spent towards them is no big deal compared to dealing with, say, the effects of excessive alcohol intake in the general population.

I'm over here in Finland, somewhat severely disabled (nowhere near like Hawking, though), and can't help but feel that the kinds of systems we have in place also play a crucial part in making sure that people like myself are actually rather independently contributing to society up to their capacity instead of dropping out of the loop totally, becoming fully dependent charity objects... whom could be then blamed even more for the full dependency they have ended up in.

Re:Best care money can buy helps (5, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637098)

It's amazing listening to Americans discuss the care of people with medical conditions. They just have... no... idea.

A Inspiration to all (3, Funny)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636474)

Happy Birthday,Professor Hawking.Your efforts have made physics and science cool.

Re:A Inspiration to all (1)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636486)

Yesterday... just FYI

Re:A Inspiration to all (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636514)

A not that brief history of time.

All the power to him (2)

vxone (668809) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636476)

Stephen Hawking - is a great person and he has time and again proven many scientists wrong they contently impose stereo types on him because of his appearance or disease and he has made fools of them! Good for you! Stephen Hawking all the power to you :)

Re: All the power to him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636734)

> he has time and again proven many scientists wrong

Err, what?

You could start by listing such occasions here:

Amused being an example of "death panels". (4, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636480)

Remember when he was held up as a textbook example of the types of people who would "not survive" under a universal healthcare system?

Until, of course, he pointed out that not only was he born in Britain under such a system, but that he owes his life to it many times over.

The retractions on those stories (those who even bothered to correct them) were amusing.

I still think his most significant contribution to mankind is teaming up with Pink Floyd ;) What's a PhD when you can be a rock star? (Brian Cox and Brian May, quiet you!)

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (-1, Flamebait)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636582)

but that he owes his life to it many times over.

*Ahem* you don't know a thing about ALS, do you ? He was probably perfectly healthy until 21, at which point 1 diagnosis was (and is) pretty much all that could be done. As for disability aids, those were designed, operated and built by his "employer".

And as far as I believe that house he has as part of his position comes complete with a butler (read : he gets to hire someone for that).

As the article states, the vast majority of people with ALS die within 5 years of diagnosis (and given the symptoms, you will be diagnosed correctly long before you die. Hell, a stone age idiot could probably diagnose you to the point where you knew your prognosis)

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (5, Informative)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636686)

"*Ahem* you don't know a thing about ALS, do you ? He was probably perfectly healthy until 21, at which point 1 diagnosis was (and is) pretty much all that could be done. As for disability aids, those were designed, operated and built by his "employer".
And as far as I believe that house he has as part of his position comes complete with a butler (read : he gets to hire someone for that)."

Rather than speculate, let us read Stephen Hawking's own words [telegraph.co.uk] about his debt to the NHS.

The telling paragraph:
"I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS," he said. "I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."

I would say the last sentence qualifies as evidence for the parent's statement about Stephen Hawking owing his life to the NHS.

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636736)

I take it you've never actually *read* anything written by Stephen himself.

I'm paraphrasing his own words.

Well, why paraphrase when you can quote:

"I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS, I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636588)

Are you actually suggesting that "his" care is the same as same a poverty stricken idiot from one of the city slums? Please tell me your not THAT naive...

while I think the benefits of universal healthcare far out weigh the negatives. don't act like he isn't given VERY special care compared to the run of the mill patient.

If 95% of people with his condition die in 10 years.

Either the healthcare system totally botched his diagnoses and he has something different or the care he is receiving is different from what other with the disease get. Where then are the other miracle patients from this healthcare?

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636702)

...or he's part of the 5% of cases where his diaphragm doesn't give out and he doesn't die of lung failure?

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637132)

i can give you a personal example of the FANTASTIC care available on the NHS here in Scotland

i was diagnosed with cancer in my bowels due to some villeous adenomas gone back. within a week of the diagnosis i was in an NHS hospital in Edinburgh getting them removed.

i then had a course of chemotherapy which was a wonderful treatment which didn't cause hair loss.. apparently the same stuff Iain dury had.. his cancer however was too far gone for it to help sadly but it certainly worked for me

ALL my treatment in hospital and the support care at home along with counselling, as i am telling you, NOTHING shakes the foundations of your being like a brush with mortality with the big C.

i also have arthritis in both my knees for which i get physio and medication and i paid NOTHING FOR ANY OF IT not even the medicines adn the standard of care was and if VERY high indeed.

i have been told that due to the advanced crepitus in my left knee that i will have to have a new left knee in the next 18-24 months..... and that and the support and follow on care will be provided to me for free

My kids were born at the new Edinburgh royal infirmary maternity unit,a fanfastic and very high tech and well appointed place with BRILLIANT staff.. again.. no charge.

the follow on care for the kids.. health visits froma district nurse type that monitors the health of the child and offers advice and help was also free.

i have paid my taxes and my national insurance payments and this is why i think it's a fantastic investment , not only for myself and my family but also from an employers point of view.......... a healthy employee is a happy and productive one especially when he doesn't have to worry about doctors or dentist fees

the care and treatment i have had would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds if i had been in the likes of America where profit for the HMO's comes before giving a fuck about your fellow countrymen/women and children.
long live the NHS and even though i am not a religious man at all .. bless them for the brilliant work that they do BECAUSE THEY CARE!

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636726)

Let's not forget his other musical contributions to gangsta rap!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89jt7zJzkNQ

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (0)

Petron (1771156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636948)

I wonder if he would of had the same coverage if he was a manager of a Fish & Chips with no public light... or if they would of let him go silently into the night...

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (5, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637042)

In what respect? The healthcare he received you mean?

That's the beauty of a universal healthcare system - everyone has access to the same treatment. They didn't treat him specially because he had international fame (in fact, the fame didn't come until later - it didn't affect his treatment by the NHS at all).

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636980)

Remember when he was held up as a textbook example of the types of people who would "not survive" under a universal healthcare system?

Until, of course, he pointed out that not only was he born in Britain under such a system, but that he owes his life to it many times over.

The retractions on those stories (those who even bothered to correct them) were amusing.

I still think his most significant contribution to mankind is teaming up with Pink Floyd ;) What's a PhD when you can be a rock star? (Brian Cox and Brian May, quiet you!)

erm he didn't team up with pink floyd bud, he teamed up with Roger Waters on the Radio Kaos concept album... close but no cigar :P

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637060)

Remember when he was held up as a textbook example of the types of people who would "not survive" under a universal healthcare system?

Until, of course, he pointed out that not only was he born in Britain under such a system, but that he owes his life to it many times over.

The retractions on those stories (those who even bothered to correct them) were amusing.

I still think his most significant contribution to mankind is teaming up with Pink Floyd ;) What's a PhD when you can be a rock star? (Brian Cox and Brian May, quiet you!)

erm he didn't team up with pink floyd bud, he teamed up with Roger Waters on the Radio Kaos concept album... close but no cigar :P

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Talking [wikipedia.org]

Ok, so he was sampled, but that's the song I was thinking of.

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (3, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637064)

I suspect you'd find that most of these idiots repeating the "death panel" meme are those who themselves would have let Hawking die as a young academic, to save money.

Re:Amused being an example of "death panels". (2)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637128)

I love how people will still argue this point. America deserves to suffer unnecessarily because they are so afraid of someone else getting something "for free" that they are completely blind to the fact that they also could and should be receiving the same for how much they currently pay (actually less when taxes and average healthcare costs are factored in). Universal healthcare in the US will never happen and if it does it will be ruined by lobbyists and big pharmacy/healthcare which will ensure it is a failure and then everyone will scream about how they were right and it doesn't work. Mindless.

Remarkable (5, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636504)

How many physicists have written best-sellers? About physics?

To join in wishing him the best: may he live as long as life brings him joy, and joy for as long as he lives.

Re:Remarkable (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636660)

How many physicists have written best-sellers? About physics?

Feynman, Gamow, Heisenberg all instantly come to mind as GOOD best seller physics popular science writers. There are probably a lot more BAD ones, example the new age quantum mech guy Zukav, but I can only instantly think of four good ones. You can troll by arguing about Greene, him being a string theorist means hes not a real physicist rather a theoretical mathematician, but he does live in the physics community despite mostly doing theoretical math, so I guess he counts. Lets call it five good ones.

The puzzle is how come there are so many Physicist / Popular science book authors? In comparison, the biochemists have Asimov, and ... um yeah they've got Asimov, truly a great, yet only one individual. How about biologists? Other than the "poke a stick at the creationist nutters" of which there must be hundreds all writing the same thing, all they've got is Rachel Carson... So I ask again, how come there's so many best selling physicist authors?

Re:Remarkable (1)

homsar (2461440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636906)

a theoretical mathematician

as opposed to an experimental mathematician?

Re:Remarkable (2)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637096)

As opposed to an applied mathematician.

Re:Remarkable (1)

beanyk (230597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637102)

a theoretical mathematician

as opposed to an experimental mathematician?

As opposed to an Applied Mathematician.

Re:Remarkable (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636920)

Simply put, because of Carl Sagan. He made physics interesting to the general public and paved the way for the tons of physics documentaries out there today. Now there are a lot on the best seller list that you didn't mention, Michio Kaku, Brian Greene is a Theoretical Physicist (string theory is considered theoretical physics because it make predictions), and Neil DeGrasse Tyson to name a couple more. It really is amazing how Carl Sagan transformed how the scientific community treated the public from snobby and saying "they won't understand it, science is ours.' To "science is everyones."

Re:Remarkable (1)

HnT (306652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636672)

God either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can. If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak - and this does not apply to god. If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful - which is equally foreign to god's nature. If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful, and so not a god. If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?

Re:Remarkable (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636766)

Your assumption is, god is good. If you remove your restriction, allow god to be an evil being, then quite a bit of atheist/agnostic theory evaporates (not all, just a lot).
The quisling strategy of worshiping an evil god is not that great of an idea, but it does at least make much more sense.

Re:Remarkable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636988)

God either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can. If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak - and this does not apply to god. If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful - which is equally foreign to god's nature. If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful, and so not a god. If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?

How would a world look like, where not only no evil things, but also no bad things could ever happen (and it's still a question what we want to count as "bad", but I forgo this question for sake of simplicity). I think, It would be a very static, predetermined world and living things could absolutely not have any free will.

I use Leibniz' idea that we still live in the "best of all possible worlds". I presuppose a benevolent god here, one who wants and can eliminate bad things. But there is maybe a limit to god's omnipotence. Maybe god can create a world which is not static and pretermined and with humans still having free will. But this would be all "in his mind" only. In a real world with real physical properties, there's a limit how "good" the world can be (without being static or consisting of totally unconnected matter).

The man has focus (3, Insightful)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636530)

Given a reason to live he sure hasn't wasted the opportunity. I'm betting he's never even read slashdot, let alone posted here.

Where as I... oh crap!

Misdiagnosed? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636534)

I wonder if he was misdiagnosed and has something else? That would be embarrassing.

Another option is the disease might kill old people regardless of how young its diagnosed. I read up on this and the untold medical surprise is he was diagnosed at 21... most people get this diagnosis around 60 and die within a decade, in other words, around 70. Of course most people die around 70 anyway, plus or minus 20 years or so. Its quite possible if he dies around his current 70ish (Although I wish him well and I hope he lives to be a happy centurion, in the good morning america tradition, not the ancient roman tradition) the disease would none the less be consistent in killing people around age 70.

For a similar yet completely unrelated example, genealogical research shows my ancestors uniformly seem to croak in the 80s from cardiovascular disease if nothing else gets them first (like warfare, farm accidents, etc), it just seems to be the scotsman/german way to go, I suppose you could diagnose me with that disease at age 5 if you want, and wait until I croak at 85 like most of my ancestors, but that wouldn't be a medical miracle, more of a very likely prediction.

Re:Misdiagnosed? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636602)

I think the word you were looking for was centenarian.

Re:Misdiagnosed? (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636850)

Septuagenarian surely...

Re:Misdiagnosed? (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636652)

ALS is well understood to be a "highly variable" disease. Meaning, they know that they don't know what it's going to do - sucks when a loved one gets it because there's always that "glimmer of hope" that it will stop before it kills them, but in 99% of cases, that's not true at the 5 year mark.

Re:Misdiagnosed? (1)

JonahsDad (1332091) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637122)

Let us not forget that ALS is a Diagnosis of Exclusion [wikipedia.org] . Rule everything else out, and it's the only thing left. Also means if doctors do find a definitive test for ALS, some patients previously diagnosed with ALS might have to be re-diagnosed.

Creationists (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636578)

The funny thing is that I've heard a lot of creationists saying his condition is a result of defying God (by being a scientist apparently). If I were a creationist, then the fact that he's defied his condition for half a century would tell me that either 1) Hawkings is stronger than God or 2) someone up there is looking out for.

But I'm not a creationist, so I'll chalk it up to his willingness to fight and his access to good healthcare. And maybe random dumb luck.

Re:Creationists (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636618)

As someone familiar with the more extreme religious crackpots out there, they would simply say that judgment happens after someone dies and the fact he is still alive has nothing to do with what awaits him.

Re:Creationists (4, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636776)

They would say whatever crossed their mind, as long as it supported their sense of superiority and self righteousness, rationality and theology be damned.

Re:Creationists (1)

heathen_01 (1191043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636640)

Hawkings is (a) god, or at the very least a demi god.

Re:Creationists (3, Interesting)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636684)

But I'm not a creationist, so I'll chalk it up to his willingness to fight and his access to good healthcare. And maybe random dumb luck.

I've worked in and around medical devices and healthcare for 2 decades, and in that time I've seen a whole lot of "use it or lose it" principle in halting disease progression. It is certainly no guarantee, but odds are better that you will be able to keep doing something if you keep doing it. Basically, "bed rest" is evil and should be avoided at every opportunity.

A whole lot of "good healthcare" is social support, keeping the patient active - sort of the opposite of your typical ICU experience.

Re:Creationists (5, Insightful)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636696)

I'm a Christian but not a creationist. I have a degree in physics and a degree in theology. And I thank God for Stephen Hawking and the insight that his incredible mind has given us into the universe, despite his defiance of God. I read his book "A Brief History of Time" and it blew my mind, it was one of the factors that led me to study physics. I used his latest book, "The Grand Design" in my honours thesis for my theology degree which was an investigation into the appearance of fine-tuning in the universe.

Not looking for an argument, just want to point out that not all Christians have the anti-science attitudes that seem so prevalent in American evangelicanlism.

Re:Creationists (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637062)

I agree it's not all Christians by a long shot, but the most vocal (who also seem to be the most ignorant of what the Bible actually says) tend to speak out with crap like God punishing everybody who has a disease.

It's been a while since I've read a Brief History of Time, but I believe he did mention God (or at least a higher power) at one point. I think he was basically saying that he wasn't ruling out God as the one who set the Big Bang into motion. Great book, along with The Universe In A Nutshell

Re:Creationists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636760)

Or 3) He is one of the 5%, or 1 in 20, that survives longer than a decade, and we've never heard of anyone in the other 95%.

Re:Creationists (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636806)

Can you please cite some of these creationists who are saying that Hawkings was struck with this illness due to "defying God"? I'd seriously like to see this because I really don't think this is the case and you're just using (yes, "using" is the term) Hawking to push your own social agenda.

Re:Creationists (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636882)

The funny thing is that I've heard a lot of creationists saying his condition is a result of defying God (by being a scientist apparently). If I were a creationist, then the fact that he's defied his condition for half a century would tell me that either 1) Hawkings is stronger than God or 2) someone up there is looking out for.

Whenever evil flourishes, the innocent and the righteous are slaughtered or struck by injury or disease the fanatics always rewrite reality until it fits their religion. The innocent weren't truly innocent, the righteous weren't truly righteous, evil exists as a punishment for our sins and so on. God is perfect and infallible so if you punched them in the face and said "If God didn't want you to get punched in the face, why didn't he stop me?" they'd secretly accept that as some sort of punishment or trial by God for their pride or to test their faith. If I'd given them a gracious donation to their church, they'd see it as a blessing from God.

There's always some explanation that fits reality, and when it really doesn't you just say he works in "mysterious ways" that us humans can't comprehend. If he'd died, that is God. If he continues to live with the disease, that's also God prolonging it. If he'd been miraculously cured, that would be by the grace of God. It's like a game show with God behind every door, no matter which you pick. Religion is the anthropomorphization of reality, that behind everything there's an invisible man pulling invisible strings. And no matter what you say you can't prove the strings don't exist.

Lame (5, Funny)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636608)

No Nobel prize. Less range than a Prius. Lame.

Re:Lame (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636694)

BlackPignouf said:

No Nobel prize. Less range than a Prius. Lame.

He still hasn't solved the most troubling mystery of Man. From Stephen Hawking himself:

In an interview with the New Scientist ahead of his 70th birthday, he said he spent most of the day thinking about women, who he says are "a complete mystery"

References:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16137007 [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Lame (1)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636722)

Awesome. :-D

Re:Lame (4, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636826)

No Nobel prize

Which at this point is surprising to me. He did pioneering work on the physics of black holes, and was the first to theorize on what is now called Hawking Radiation. That seems like a pretty good accomplishment. Do you suppose the relative lack of experimental confirmation keeps him from it?

On the other hand, the Nobel committee has been known to overlook some rather obvious candidates. Einstein never received a Nobel for his work on relativity (special or general) or his contributions to quantum mechanics. His prize was given for his explanation of the photoelectric effect [wikipedia.org] which, while an important contribution, most people don't know about.

Re:Lame (3, Interesting)

daid303 (843777) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636914)

Getting your name on a physics theory/phenomenon is a much larger accomplishment then a nobel prize. Who remembers nobel prize winners? I bet the list of scientists with names in physics that everyone knows is larger then the list of nobel prize winners that people know.

Re:Lame (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637014)

Both points seem valid.

Re:Lame (1)

AndyGJ (1212742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636834)

No Nobel prize. Less range than a Prius. Lame.

Well played sir.

comparison and life purpose (4, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636616)

i think it would be an interesting study, even an informal one, to see how many other people have a physical condition that is listed as "unsurvivable within period X" and to see if there is a correlation between them "defying the predictions" and, as hawking himself puts it, having "something to live for".

put another way: how many people have, on learning of their condition, literally lost the will to live, and how many took it as a challenge to fight for their right to life and a purpose?

Re:comparison and life purpose (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636716)

Losing the will would seem to imply a great reduction in stress, all I gotta do is lie here and die.
Living would seem to involve stress.
Supposedly more stress = earlier death in a simple linear relationship, but that may not be the case.
Yet on the other hand, people who intensely meditate and would appear to spend less time stressing out, don't seem to live all that much longer.

Re:comparison and life purpose (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636754)

I'm pretty sure I've seen this analysis (actually "fighting" a disease vs not, but it's close) and the correlation was nil.

Re:comparison and life purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636922)

I think the book entitled "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankl provides interesting background on this topic.

Shroedinger explained this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636670)

they havent opened the box yet. He's a mint collectors edition

The reason for his survival is obvious (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636730)

Stephen Hawking has achieved quantum immortality.

Re:The reason for his survival is obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637116)

Stephen Hawking has achieved quantum immortality.

Bah! That's only a subjective immortality. But I'm certainly happy that I am in one of the many multiverses where he has survived to 70. :)

Genius? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636810)

Funny guy.

You have to have a particularly large set of balls to doubt that Professor Hawking is a genius.

Re:Genius? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38636890)

Funny guy.

You have to have a particularly large set of balls to doubt that Professor Hawking is a genius.

That quote was from Hawking himself.

Re:Genius? (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636912)

LOL thats Hawking himself who wrote "Whether I'm a genius is more open to doubt".
He's a humble guy despite all he's done. Basically an anti-politician. That's what would make him a great national leader, if he wanted to do that. Him being smart enough to not want to take a bite of that sh1t sandwich says a lot about the current world situation.

He should guest appear on Big Bang Theory.... (1)

realsilly (186931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38636970)

Then he could add Television star to his profile. I think that could be a great episode, especially to mark his birthday and all of his scientific achievements.

Re:He should guest appear on Big Bang Theory.... (1)

LastGunslinger (1976776) | more than 2 years ago | (#38637054)

Hasn't he appeared on The Simpsons more than once?

Re:He should guest appear on Big Bang Theory.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637170)

Hasn't he appeared on The Simpsons more than once?

And he appeared on Star Trek: TNG

healthcare + diet + lifestyle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637088)

Pretty decent healthcare. As far as I know, he gets just better than average NHS care. Nothing special. (this includes a semi-permanent helper(s))

His diet is liquid if I am remembering correctly.
Liquid diets are extremely efficient sources of food intake. Soups are incredibly healthy for you, and various other liquid meals.
Since these diets would probably be prepared a certain way to have most, if not all, minerals, it most likely more healthy than traditional liquid diets.

His lifestyle involves doing something he has an absolute passion for.
He doesn't let his condition get him down. He thinks positively.
He is also very mentally active due to the discipline he is in as well, which also keeps his heart active, which would normally end up incredibly weak over the years of inactivity.
These are clinically shown to improve a persons health. The opposite also shows highly detrimental effects to a persons body, immune especially.

He could well hit the 100 if his illness doesn't get any worse, just by these alone.

Honorary Degrees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38637152)

That seems like a bit of an insult. We know you're a brilliant guy who earned real degrees through hard work and a brilliant mind. We'd like to slap a meaningless extra degree on you so we can try to pretend to be some part of your genius.

Aren't honorary degrees for celebrities who couldn't have earned the real thing?

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