I didn’t see Stephen Hawking in Seattle yesterday


I didn't see the Stephen Hawking lecture in Seattle yesterday, but then again, nobody did. I did see him when he came to town back in 1993 and again in 1996. I think it was during the 1996 appearance, after his presentation on imaginary time was complete and the floor opened to questions, the first person to the microphone asked, "Hello, Dr. Hawking, my name is ABC, and I'm an oneironaut. That means that I travel through space by means of dreams. I was wondering if your imaginary time has any connection to my ability to travel in this manner."

The sound of a thousand people rolling their eyes filled the room. "We have in our presence what many people consider to be the smartest living human being, we have time to ask him three questions, and one of them is this one!?"

We waited patiently for Dr. Hawking's response, which was basically, "No, I don't think so."

Comments (10)
  1. Jonathan Snook says:

    Reminds me of when Homer reaches the top of the mountain and says, "Are you really the president of QuickieMart?"

    "Yes"

    "Really?"

    "Yes"

    "Really?"

    "Yes. Thank you, please come again."

  2. Anonymous Coward says:

    If you live in Cambridge (the real one not the recent imposter) then he is well known for being out and about in pedestrian areas. One of my friends has had his foot rolled over, twice.

  3. Tony Cox [MS] says:

    I’ve also seen Stephen Hawking speak (in Cambridge), and can attest that he gets asked pointless/trite/kooky questions fairly regularly.

    What makes this really annoying is that he takes a very long time to answer each question. Literally 5 minutes of silence while he works his speech synth to build the reply. So it’s not as though he can quickly blow off the goofy questions and move on.

  4. Feroze Daud says:

    If I were he, I would have kept a library of answers for these kooky questions.

  5. Mr. Ed says:

    Some short-cuts for Dr. Hawking:

    F1 – No, I don’t think so.

    F2 – Hell no!

    F3 – <Beep> <Beep>

    F4 – For the last time, I don’t know if Commander Data is a good poker player!

  6. ~als says:

    Stephen Hawkins. . .

    Does "mind over matter" come to m*nd?

  7. Evan says:

    I don’t typically read your blog, but I happened by and saw this post. I was only a young lad, but I was there! I remember that question, and I also rolled my eyes!

  8. Steve says:

    Given the time it takes Dr Hawking to reply wouldn’t it have been quicker if you had just beaten the idiot to death with his own shoes and just moved on the the next question? I’m sure Dr Hawking would have been more than happy to move on. The side effect on the gene pool of the Pacific NW would also be beneficial.

  9. C says:

    at the very least, there’s a certain amount of entertainment to be had from people like this. i mean, this anecdote itself made my hour!

  10. John says:

    Here’s an anecdote for you. Stephen is often around in the brand-new Center for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge (UK), eats lunch/talks with students and faculty regularly. While I was visiting for a conference a couple of years ago, I really needed to use the bathroom.

    So I go to the toilets, which are in the basement next to the lecture theaters. But a lecture has just finished and there are only two stalls available. I’m really desperate, so I use the disabled bathroom next door…. When I come out, who do I see but old Stephen? He didn’t seem too happy!

    Before I get flamed please realize that he was the only disabled guy around, the chance of this happening was low, and I REALLY REALLY had to go.

    I’ve also heard interesting stories about him getting ‘pennied’ at Gonville and Caius formal hall – a undergraduate Cambridge tradition where you "have" to down your wine glass when someone puts a penny in it.

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