What everyone should know about Stephen Hawking

 

He has not only made guest appearances on Star Trek and The Simpsons, but globally-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has also earned huge praise thanks to his complex physical concepts made accessible to the ordinary guy via his bestselling book A Brief History of Time.

Few know that despite Dr. Hawking’s influential body of work, he has yet to be awarded the Nobel Prize. Despite this, he has earned some of the most remarkable distinctions in the scientific community.

Dr. Stephen Hawking is the author of some popular science books. Born on January 8, 1942, Dr. Hawking was born on the day of Galileo’s 300th death anniversary.

Although Hawking’s theories are challenging for a non-scientific mind to understand, this impressive cosmologist did not exactly show the level of brilliance you would expect in his school studies. His grades ranked the worst in his class when he was nine years old. He did exert some extra effort to drive those grades up to above average and little else.

That said, Stephen Hawking showed a keen interest in the workings of many things. He was known to take things such as radios and clocks apart but nevertheless, putting the disassembled items was something he wasn’t quite good at.

He would have loved to major in mathematics because of his intense liking for the subject from an early age, but his father thought otherwise. Stephen’s dad wanted him to take up medicine. However, Stephen Hawking wasn’t fascinated with biology since he found it too descriptive and extremely inexact.

Stephen Hawking apparently wanted to focus on distinct, precise concepts. Thus, although Stephen attended Oxford, he majored in physics. To combat the loneliness and isolation he felt in his first year at Oxford, Stephen Hawking joined the rowing team. He did not have a muscular or large build even before he was diagnosed with the motor neuron disease.

However, he served as a coxswain, a non-rowing position. As a coxswain, it was his responsibility to control the stroke and steering rate of the rowing team. As such, he was called by a fellow boatsman as an adventurous type of teammate.

Shortly after a week of getting to know Jane Wilde, who became his wife, Stephen Hawking went to the hospital to undergo two weeks of tests to find out what was wrong with his health. It was then that he was diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

He was told he most likely only had a few years to live. Although Stephen was shocked and kept wondering how this could happen to him, he felt luckier that others were far worse than he was.

In 1983, together with Jim Hartle, Stephen Hawking developed the theory that the universe is without boundaries. Utilizing the concepts of quantum mechanics and general relativity, he and Jim sought to understand the shape and nature of the universe. Thus, they proved that although the universe is a contained entity, it has no boundaries.

Stephen Hawking, genius that he is, actually lost a bet about black holes in 1997 with John Preskill, a fellow scientist. Hawking admitted he had been wrong when he said that information gets lost in black holes that eventually evaporate.

In 2004, he conceded he was wrong so when delivering a lecture during a scientific conference, Stephen declared black holes have more than one topology so when the information coming from all those topologies are measured, the information is not lost.

Truly a brilliant mind such as Stephen Hawking is still very much human in all aspects of the word.

 

 

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How I chose my telescope

 

 

Now is as great time as any to shop for a telescope. I myself took advantage of the way manufacturers of quality telescopes have tried to outdo each other with their various products. The buying process was both fun and challenging, but I did my homework sufficiently to know I got a top-of-the-line instrument and nothing less.

It has become an exciting time for novice astronomers because of the many choices of telescopes and accessories. However, to ensure I was getting a device that would fit my needs, I first needed to determine what was important to me.

This meant knowing how dark the skies could become at night where I live, or what celestial objects I would be predominantly observing up close. Since I am not yet an expert, I also took that under consideration, so I wouldn’t be getting an overly complicated tool that would probably only end up in the closet than on the lawn.

I wanted something light but not overly so to prevent the instrument from toppling over with the slightest accidental bump. After I had gotten familiar with what the market had to offer, the buying process became somewhat easier.

 

I had read that a telescope’s aperture is its most vital specification. The aperture denotes the diameter of the scope’s primary optical element, which can be a mirror or a lens. The dimension of this element is an indication of the instrument’s ability to collect light for viewing a faraway object.

The resolving power of the scope depends on the aperture too. I decided early in the day that it was critical to know as much as possible about the aperture of a scope if I was to optimize night sky viewing. A bigger aperture is always better than a small one. A 3-inch scope may not be able to let me distinguish the craters of the Moon in a manner that a 6-inch scope can.

Of course, this is under the same conditions and using identical magnification. With the surface area of a 6-inch scope being four times larger than that of a scope that is half smaller, the bigger aperture scope is more capable of gathering four times as much light to make the galaxy look four times more brilliant, or 1.5 magnitudes brighter.

I knew beforehand I should not be fooled by the seemingly stupendous magnification of some devices on the market. Magnification varies according to the eyepiece I use on the eye end of the scope, so that element is not constant, to say the least especially if you are looking to buy the best telescope for a beginner.

Of course, there was also a need to factor in aperture as well as the conditions of the atmosphere when assessing the magnification. What was more important was to know how much detail is delivered by the lens or mirror of the scope to enable me to find the optimal magnification to support the viewing of that much detail. This is without scattering the target’s available light.

This is something I didn’t need because it would render the object too dim to see or too blurry. To enable me to look at nebulae, galaxies and other faint objects, I should use low power objectives. Medium-high power objectives are ideal for observing bright objects such as the Moon and planets.

Excess magnification will only cause blurry views. To find the top useful magnification, I just needed to figure out the aperture of the scope in inches multiplied by 50, which would be the same as twice the aperture in millimeters.

This means a high-quality 4-inch scope cannot be pushed beyond around 200x. I got a small device with good optics that enables me to view the rings of Saturn or the main cloud belts of Jupiter, which can be seen even with just a magnification of 75x.

I steered clear of department store scopes that promised silly things like 700x power or something to that effect, as it would all simply be hype.

That’s how I got my beautiful telescope.

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