Tag Archives: King’s College London

Why did the undergrad cross the road? A Stephen Hawking tribute!

Few days ago I heard the sad news .. that Professor Hawking had passed away at the age of 76. What a great man ..  yes for all the scientific theories & theoretical physics discoveries and contributions he had made, but also because he lived on for decades.. despite being told he was going not going to make it..  and living with a degenerating motor neurone disease..and creating a hugely successful presence..  in the science world, and in television too.

hawking BBC
Professor Stephen Hawking  (c) BBC

Professor Stephen Hawking – Theoretical physicist
Born: 8 January 1942, Oxford
Died: 14 March 2018, Cambridge.

Crossing the road in Cambridge

I met him briefly in cambridge ..while crossing the road ..  way back in early 90’s .  I was a Physics undergraduate at the time (studying in London King’s College) but on a social a day trip to cambridge University with my friends at the King’s Malaysian & Singaporean Society.    I must have got off the hired coach and following my friends into one of the college buildings.. when i saw The iconic figure in the Wheelchair further down the street.   So I ran to catch up ..and stood panting..  and overwhelmed ..not knowing what to do or say.   I think I eventually managed a `Hello ..it’s very nice to meet you’..   Then I stood..  wondering what to do..  and was about to turn and walk ..when his assistant/ nurse/colleague stopped me. she said he was going to say something.  And he did..   And as much as I like to make a great mystery of it..  i can’t recall what it was.   It was a simple social nicety.  But it made my century.   A Physics  undergrad meeting a Physics Genius-Celeb!

Hawking Radiation story

Crazily enough.. in my A?Level school days,  when i applied to Oxford for doing a Physics degree, I had no knowledge of who Stephen Hawking was….but anyone about to apply to Oxford University to do Physics degree should have known!!  All my life my parents were nudging me to be an an  Engineer..and after accidentally reading about the contents of Physics degree in a Uni handbook..I changed my mind overnight and put it on my application form..  which rather threw all my family and teachers at school ..  To my family I gave some crazy answer about how doing Physics degree is going to be better career move than Engineering.. though at that time..i so desperately wanted to learn about particles and space-time..  that I had no plan about a career at all…

So as I was getting Mr Lewis Had of 6th Form in our school (Graveney school in Tooting) to sign my application, he asked me `so you know about Hawking radiation then?’

I had no  clue of neither Professor Hawking or Hawking Radiation.   That was the first I heard of both..as I took my first steps towards a Physics degree.

blackhole.jpg

In those days I was a shy introvert with about 2 friends..  (hard to believe how I turned out now..  ).  The Library was my refuge.. both at school..and all the local ones..  Tooting, Colliers woods, Mitcham..  even Sutton & Croydon.   So I went and eventually found out about Hawking Radiation ofcourse – theoretical process by which ..due to quantum effects, a matter and anti-matter particle pair are formed out of `borrowed energy’ ..and where one falls into the black hole..and other escapes…thereby taking half the borrowed energy into the Universe… Only at the edge of a black hole can this happen.. where `borrowed energy’ is not fully returned to the vacuum of space.

Years later this idea would surface again ..but in my esoteric explorations..  and I learnt using the principles of science, I can cheat the universe and borrow some energy.. (That’s for a book am still writing in the future – sequel to my `Eclipse Magic workbook’ which actually has quite a bit of science in it…for magical use!!)

Big Bang Theory

In recent times (!),  we’ve come to see Stephen Hawking many times..  on many popular TV shows, where Hawking has played himself 🙂 Star Trek: Next Generation, Simpsons, Futurama, Big Bang Theory..  but a few to name (link below). Being a Science nerd/ sci-fi geek, i have enjoyed all those shows and doubly so for seeing my Physics-hero in them. (well my 2nd Science Hero..after the late Issac Asimov!)

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So..  RIP Stephen Hawking. Thank you for the inspirations. May you forever sit on the edge of a supermassive Black Hole and be radiating your essence in the imaginary and the real worlds.

-Mani Navasothy

Links:

  • Hawking has appeared in many sci-fi shows.. playing himself 🙂
  • HAwking Radiation explained
  • Hawking – Life in pictures
  • Some cartoons I found in the internet (I hold no copyright)
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Making of my Cyber-Sun Mask

Cybermen..  arch enemies of the wandering Time Lord (The Doctor). These creatures – humans from another planet who had replaced body parts with cybernetic parts so much that they became cybermen – were first encountered by the Doctor whilst in his first `incarnation’ – (William Hartnell), and the adventure very nearly killed the Doctor.  It was called `The Tenth Planet’ – where a wandering 10th planet came very close to Earth in deed (by its own propulsion …thanks to Cyber-technology)!  The weather on Earth went haywire. Those Early Cybermen were really scary character to be honest. Fabric-draped faces..  hollow gaps for eyes.. and mouth..  and speaking in a strange tape-recorder playing on/off type manner.

At the end of it, the (first) Doctor had to withdraw to the safety and support of the TARDIS, where he regenerated for the first time!  Those were the 60’s!

Well, more recently (2006?) when the revamped `new’ new new new series of Doctor Who came back to BBC TV, Russell T Davies & the folks responsible re-invented the origins for Cybermen. These ones were the product of a Scientist in a parallel Earth – who was a disabled (wheel-chair bound) guy who wanted to create better models..  and he kidnapped and surgically hacked homeless people off the streets and turned them (or just re-housed their brains in machine body suits) into Cybermen.

Few years ago, for Christmas special, there was the story `The Next Doctor’ – where the then current Doctor (David Tennant) found himself in Victorian London, in snow..  and encountered a cybermen plot to create `CyberKing’ – (spoiler alert) – a Giant Robot form.

The making of the `New Cyberman' mask & Cyber-Sun
The making of the `New Cyberman’ mask & Cyber-Sun

This image (screen capture) comes from my art website page  http://www.artofmani.co.uk/html/features_1.html

As a pagan I got thinking about this – and as I already had a `Maya Sun God’ mask, decided ..not only to make a new cyberman mask..but to also make a `CyberGod’ out of him (Cybergod is a Concept I have played about with for many years in my own visionary art explorations and narratives..   It will surface one day! 😉

So here’s the step by step photos of how the Cyberman mask was made.. It’s made entirely of card board  (link comes from my Fantasy, SciFi & Visionary Art website Art of Mani)

-Mani

ps. By the way, this is the 2nd Cyberman mask I have made. The first one was made around early 1990’s, and I also made a full cybersuit then (polythene body suit sprayed with silver paint)..  to walk around King’s College (London University) Student Union areas, to promote the `Sci-fi  & fantasy Society’ (My friend Raymond & I started that off).   It’s possibly the earliest example of me wearing a mask and parading around large number of people (been doing that in Open pagan rituals in recent 7-8 years).

pps. Here’s the full Sun-mask

A Mayan Sun-Mask
A Mayan Sun-Mask

Doctor Who (my) blog links

Tardis Tales: K9 and me

Trials of a Time Lord: Kangaroo Court