Talking Hawking

I was reading an article yesterday, the nature of which was so remarkable it has entirely left my mind. It was something science-y. It will come to me in a minu…

Oh yeah, it was a story about that long cigar-shaped object that just casually flew into our solar system from somewhere outside. You probably remember it – it was mentioned in the news because people were speculating where it had come from and whether it was natural or artificial. Could it be a cigar-shaped rock thing from an alien civilisation.

And then everyone went, “Nah, it’s just a rock, mate.”

But people have kept an eye on it as it just bimbles along at a slow and steady pace. And then it started speeding up which caught everyone a little bit off-guard. Because it shouldn’t do that. There’s nothing that should have exerted any sort of force on it, and space doesn’t have many downhill bits where you can lift your feet up and just free-wheel.

So people started paying attention to it again and, again, the natural or artificial thing has surface. And there is some speculation that it might be a solar sail. Which I don’t really understand, but essentially gets energy from the sun to power itself along, as a sail on a sea-faring boat would do with the wind.

And then the news story said “Before his death, Stephen Hawking said…” and I thought, “huh, that’s probably a bit unnecessary to point out he spoke before his death, because that’s really obvious…” He said that a the best shape for a solar sail, or any sort of artificial device to travel from the far reaches of space, would be a cigar-shape because it’d generate less friction. Smart man, that Hawking.

So that, the article implied, lent some credence to the artificial over natural debate.

But I was still hung up on the superfluous use of “before his death”. Because, like I say, it’s obvious. It’s almost unheard of for someone to say something after their death.

And then I thought, actually, Stephen Hawking could have totally done that. He could have said all sorts after his death. He had a pretty swish chair, with pretty natty electronics on it. And you can tell he liked a chuckle from his appearances on the Big Bang Theory.

I’d have loved it if the article said, “After his death, Stephen Hawking said…” and people would be confused. And then it turned out, like a future-dated email, he’d set the speech program on his chair to continue to deliver theories and thoughts from the great man, even when he was gone. Because he could do that. He could have sat quietly in his chair, onlookers thinking he was deep in thought, and really he was just being a mischievous little bugger setting up his tech so that after his passing it came out with things that he didn’t want to say when he was alive.

Anyway, optimal shape or not, my money’s still on rock.


Unless Stephen’s chair says differently…