Stephen Hawking Passes at 76

Today’s Thought

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.
~Stephen Hawking

hawking_brief_historyI first became aware of Stephen Hawking in a bookstore back in 1988. While searching for the latest Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, I came across an interesting looking book titled A Brief History of Time. I was reading everything I could get my hands on about popular physics at the time and Hawking’s book was among the best I’d read. He was among the first to try to describe what being inside a black hole would be like and, of course, he believed he’d found a mathematical equation for the beginning of the universe that required no care-taker God.

A couple years later he appeared on my favorite TV show – Star Trek: The Next Generation – in a holodeck scene with Data, an actor playing Albert Einstein and an actor playing Isaac Newton. The scene was a humorous one with Data playing poker with his idols. Hawking made the scene by dissing on Einstein, something he did in the real world quite a bit as well.

His intellect was known the world over, as was his famous electronic voice made necessary by his Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). It certainly is a triumph of the human spirit to achieve all he achieved while battling such a devastating disease.

In recent years, he used his platform to warn about the perils of our modern society, including climate change, artificial intelligence, and the dangers posed to humanity by contact with advanced extraterrestrial civilizations. While I may not have always agreed with his conclusions, the fact that he was saying it always required one to stop and think.

The world has lost a one-of-a-kind. I hope he finds peace back in the place that precedes his quantum singularity.

Ray Davis
for 6 Sense Media

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Everyday Humanity!

Child watching the fireIn our age of instant and continuous news, we were all immediately made aware of the horrific tornado that hit Moore, OK yesterday. As we sat and watched the images on TV, we just knew that there were struggles for survival, acts of heroism, and the anguish of loss all happening and all within a single camera frame. We find ourselves, very humanly, asking a resounding WHY?

Why do things like this happen? Why did so many young children have to be lost? We all have our suppositions and beliefs, but no real answers to questions like that. In an absence of answers, we are compelled to act – to help in anyway we can. Our most authentic humanity comes out and we all pitch in to do whatever we can – physically help the recovery, send money and supplies, send prayers and well wishes.

In these moments of stunning tragedy our humanity shows up big. We recognize, if only for the briefest of moments, that we humans are all traveling in the same “boat”. We are all subject to death. We are all subject to loss. We are all susceptible to the totally unexpected.

We have an innate sense that we can either lose ourselves in sadness over that fact or we can grasp each moment with zest and a determination to make the most of this precious life – a gift beyond all gifts.

For those closest to this event, the repercussions of this tornado will resonate for years to come. For the rest of us, we will move on in a few days to the next story, the next event, or become again distracted by things happening in our own world.

Here is what I wish for us all. May the surge of humanity we are feeling in this moment carry over into tomorrow. May it carry over into our daily lives. Why must we wait for tragedy to feel it? We lose it in our political, religious, economic, and ethnic differences. We forget it until a tragedy shakes us awake.

Let normal days be filled with our humanity. Let us remember our humanity and that of our adversary in every encounter we have out in the marketplace of ideas.

Boston Will Overcome and So Will We!

Today’s Affirmation

My World is what I make of it and today I make it and happy and peaceful place to live.

This morning I posted an article on another site discussing my thoughts after yesterday’s horrific bombing in Boston. I really do believe that the 95% of us on this planet who want to live and let live need to assert ourselves.

What do you think? Read more.

I Have A Dream – The Affirmation Spot for Monday January 19, 2009

Today’s Affirmation:

“I believe in the future of humanity. I believe our species’ most prosperous, peaceful, and enlightened times are ahead. I am living my life in a way that turns that belief into reality.”
(Click the affirmation to hear the mp3 version)

Today I am recognizing the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday. As has become tradition on this blog, I am doing so by posting the video of Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech delivered August 28, 1963.

This week – regardless of your political point of view – an historic step towards Dr. King’s dream becomes a reality with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of The United States. It’s unlikely that even Dr. King anticipated such a big step so soon.

While Dr. King’s speech was aimed at the specific circumstances in The United State in the early 1960s, it’s message is timeless and transcendent. It is a message that needs to be heard in Israel and Gaza, Pakistan and India, Iraq and Afghanistan, and, yes, in the halls of power in Washington, London, Moscow, and elsewhere.

In too many places, man’s inhumanity to man is the rule of the day. Let us – all six billion of us – heed Dr. King’s wise words. Let us create a new dream where Israeli and Palestinian children walk arm in arm. Let us create a world where we work together to bring about justice.

Then, we too, can say, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty. We’re fee at last.”


Runtime is 17:57

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be.”
MP3 version of this affirmation

Obama Won, But Now What? – The Affirmation Spot for Friday November 7, 2008

Today’s Affirmation:

(click to hear it)
“Recession proof…I have the skills and the confidence to compete in a tough economy.”


Today I am looking for some feedback from you. The United States elected Barack Obama as its next president on Tuesday. Now What?

Leave a comment to share your hopes and concerns about the new administration. What do you think are the potential positives about the new administration? What gives you concern? What would you like to see the new president address in his first term?

Most importantly, how do we use this moment to re-empower ourselves as citizens and human beings?

Stay inspired!

Ray

India Goes to the Moon – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday October 22, 2008

Today’s Affirmation:

“Determination…I push my limits and I achieve great things.” (click to hear it now)

Space represents such an opportunity for humanity. It is chance for us to work together on something important to all of us.

As The United States has largely rejected its space heritage in recent decades, other nations have stepped up in its place.

Today India took a major step forward in its space program by launching its first unmanned mission to the Moon. It joins its Asian counterparts Japan and China who already have craft orbiting our nearest celestial neighbor.

India’s craft dubbed Chandrayaan-1 – “Mooncraft” in ancient Sanskrit – lifted off today from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. The launch site is located on India’s southeast coastline near India’s largest city Chennai.

For longtime readers of this blog, you know I love space. It is my belief that space exploration poses challenges and offers economic opportunities that could fundamentally alter how humans interact on Earth.

It is my firm belief that the global war economy – sadly still far and away Earth’s largest industry – could easily be replaced by a global space economy. In fact, I would argue that economic reasons are the primary driver of wars on our planet. Our planet could be fundamentally improved by the substitution of space exploration for war.

Chandrayaan-1’s two-year mission is to provide the most detailed maps ever of Earth’s nearest neighbor and set the stage for landing an unmanned craft on the Moon’s surface by 2012.

Last October Japan successfully placed it’s Kaguya moon vehicle in orbit around the moon (view Earthrise and Earthset videos from Kaguya). The Japanese have set a goal of 2025 for placing a manned mission on the surface of the moon.

China’s Chang’e vehicle has also been orbiting the Moon for nearly a year now. Russia has announced plans to land on the Moon around 2025 and even NASA has announced plans to return by 2020.

This transition to a spacefaring race is a positive step. Just as human beings the world over took pride in the accomplishment of landing humans on the Moon July 20, 1969; everyone can take pride as other nations continue to push the envelope of exploration in our Solar System.

So it is in a spirit of common cause, common hopes, and common dreams that I congratulate India on its accomplishment today. May Chandrayaan-1 expand human knowledge about the Moon and bring closer the day when humans work together to travel the stars.

That’s one giant step for India and one giant leap for humans in space.

Stay inspired!

Ray

September 11th: Seven Years Later – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday September 11, 2008

Seven years ago today the world witnessed what happens when hatred and violence shape human actions. September 11, 2001 was the world’s first truly global terrorist event. The scale, the number of people from around the world gone in a moment, and the planetary TV audience brought us all closer together, if only for a moment.

In the days that followed, I wrote the following open letter. It was partly an attempt to come to terms with my own feelings and partly an attempt to sway anyone who might have been reading that we must find better ways to live together on this planet.

Here is the letter in its entirety from September 14, 2001.

This letter is dedicated to the victims, their families, the rescue workers, and everyone who is a voice or a pair of hands for a more peaceful world.

The events of this past week have shocked and saddened all well-meaning people the world over.  As an American, my heart breaks for the people tragically victimized by this act.  As a human being my heart hemorrhages, that we still live in a world that believes killing each other is a solution to our problems.  How regrettable that we human beings still choose to address our grievances with each other in such destructive ways.

It is devastating to witness the results of such hatred, bigotry, and violence in action. No cause, no complaint against the United States can ever justify the actions taken by these fanatics.   Their misguided interpretation of their beliefs and their unwillingness to see Americans as fellow human beings, worthy of life, caused them to conclude that any action against America was justified.  The outpouring of human emotion and determination this week from around the world should let them know they have crossed a line drawn by all civilized societies and sane human beings.

In our effort to draw that line, we bring ourselves into danger.  Not only the physical danger of responding to their actions, but the psychological and spiritual temptations to become like the terrorists to defeat them.  If we allow our desire for revenge on groups of people to overcome our need for justice for the individuals responsible, we are in danger of becoming undifferentiated from them.  If we succumb to the fear resulting from the terrorist’s actions and curtail the basic liberties we hold dear in our society, then the very thing that sets us apart and is worth defending becomes a victim of these acts.  Ben Franklin, the wisest of our founding fathers, said, “Those who give up their liberty for a little temporary security, shall have neither liberty nor security.”   Our leaders and our citizens would do well to recall these words as we address what measures should be taken to balance our freedoms with our security.

This week has been a time for grief over the deaths of many of our fellow-citizens as well as a significant number of foreign nationals representing more than 40 countries.  By this measure, this was indeed an attack on the entire civilized world.  As grief turns to anger and then to action, it is important for us to measure our actions and do what is right not just what would make us feel better.   In the aftermath of these events, we might feel justified in doing almost anything.  We may believe that retaliating against innocent people or attacking our fellow citizens who might look or share the same religion, in name, as the terrorists is acceptable.  Such actions would only make us guilty of sinking to the same level as these criminals.   As Americans it is our responsibility in the world to set a different example and show the world different and better ways to solve problems.  Simply responding in kind will surely bring a cycle of violence, whose results we cannot predict, and leave us with the same long-term problems experienced elsewhere in this world when violence becomes the only means of communication.

There is plenty of suffering to go around.  The victims and their families are suffering, our country is suffering, and the world is suffering as we relive these events on videotape over and over again.  In this time of righteous anger, it is also important to contemplate the amount of self-inflicted suffering that must be necessary for any person to carry out this kind of terror.  It is a time to reflect on the ways in which we all bring suffering into our lives and the lives of others.  It can be a time when, in addition to justice, we seek new ways of relating to each other and working for a world where no one feels either the right or the impulse to inflict such things on others.  Suffering was brought by these attacks.  Killing more people in response will only increase suffering not bring solutions.

So from tragedy comes opportunity.  We have seen this week the heroism of those working directly to help the victims, so there is opportunity to demonstrate our humanity one to another.  There is opportunity to reflect on a world that we all create everyday with each thought, word, and action.  There is opportunity for all sane and civilized peoples to work together to end the scourge of terrorist violence wherever it occurs.  It is justice we must seek, though, not revenge.

Finally, we have the opportunity to start seeing the other people we share this planet with, even those different from ourselves, as human beings just like us.  The temptation to divide the world into  “us” and “them” is the thinking that created justification in the minds of these terrorists for their acts. To the extent we have all perpetuated this concept of the world, we have all created a fertile field for the conflicts we continue to endure here on planet earth.  No religion teaches nor accepts acts like we saw this week.  Every religion, however, does teach us to love our fellow human beings.  To the extent we fail in the latter, we can all expect more of the former.

Let’s not permit this horrendous tragedy to occur and these deaths to be meaningless.  Let us commit, even as we seek justice for these crimes, to create a world where such acts are unthinkable ways of making a statement, even for the most radical among us. An event like this should fill us with hard questions, not easy answers.  Let us rally around our flag to seek justice, not as means of supporting a response yet more fierce and destructive in nature.  Blood for blood has never brought people anything but more blood.  May these events lead us to a greater self-awareness and a more reflective, just world.  In that way, we can honor the memory of those lost in New York and Washington D.C, and Pennsylvania.

Some may believe this to be an unattainable goal.  One thing is for sure, as long as we believe it to be impossible it will be.  Despite our best efforts, crazy people may persist, but as a civilization and as individuals we owe it to ourselves and our children to seek that kind of world.  May those who have suffered loss, find solace in their faith and the people around them.  May those who are responsible be brought to a civilized justice. May we all find peace in our hearts and greater peace in our world!