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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Hawking talks physics at A&M

Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, arrived in College Station Feb. 24 and will remain until March 21. His visit is sponsored by the Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics.
Hawking will be working mostly with professors and graduate students who take part in the institute, but he will also give a speech to the general public on March 8 at 4 p.m. in Rudder Auditorium.
The black hole scientist suffers from an acute case of Lou Gehrig’s disease that confines him to the use of only his thumb and appearances by him are rare, said Christopher Pope, an A&M professor and organizer of the Mitchell Institute. Pope said it would be best for students to not bother Hawking when they see him around campus.
Hawking is able to speak through a special computer that he operates with his thumb.
Whitney Wilkinson, a junior bioenviromental sciences major, said she is excited about the prospect of hearing Hawking’s speech, despite the necessary computer assistance.
“It doesn’t matter how he talks, it just matters what he says,” she said.
Pope said he has already heard Hawking’s speech, “Godel and the End of Physics.” Kurt Godel (1906-1978) was a 20th century mathematician and logician who invented the theory of incompleteness. The theory states that even the field of mathematics will always include underlying complications even after an initial solution is found.
“The example that is usually used is if there are two types of people in the world, those that shave themselves and those that are shaved by a barber, which group does the barber fall into?” Pope said.
Hawking is the greatest physist since Albert Einstein, said Dr. Edward Fry, head of the A&M physics department. Hawking gained noteriaty in the 1970s and 1980s for his theories concerning Black Holes, and is the holder of the prestigous Lucasian Professorship at Cambridge University.
The Mitchell Institute is named after Cynthia W. and George P. Mitchell, Class of 1940, who gave $2.5 million to fund the institute and the Stephen Hawking Chair in Fundamental Physics, presently being held by Pope.
Unlike Hawking’s speech, the topic of the institute will mostly focus on holography, the theoretical field relating string-theory, the use of interactions of one-dimensional strings to explain quantum mechanics, to Einstein’s theory of gravity, Pope said.
Along with Hawking, nine other visiting professors from universities such as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will also be a part of the institutePope said that the presence of the visiting professors puts the institute on par with Ivy League Programs.
“This Institute will be the place in the southern United States for string-theory and other research,” Pope said.
Fry has said that the institute will not be developing new technology, but instead will bring more research grants to A&M.
Tickets are still availible for Hawking’s speech at the Rudder Box Office for $3 for students and children and $5 for the general public.
The speech will be preceeded by an exhibition of hands-on science displays representing work from various departments at Texas A&M.The exhibit will rin from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center.

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