Happy Birthday Hawking!

January 9, 2012

Torah Kachur

Yesterday was Dr. Stephen Hawking's 70th birthday and the world celebrated....okay, the nerds of the world celebrated.  I ate cake.



But what if we never let him live?


Stephen Hawking is famous for his predictions of black holes and for his incredible mathematical genius that only a handful of people on the planet can actually appreciate.  Sometimes, he seems more famous for his wheelchair bound character and his robotic voice, there are only a few geeks out there who can't tell you that Stephen Hawking suffers from amylotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and that he has defied all odds to survive past the age of 25.


Hawking's contribution to our world has been astounding, he is one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century and his passion, patience and personality have made a scientist a household name.  And yet, our new world of genetic analysis and breeding optimized children may never have allowed Stephen Hawking, the embryo, to survive.  Embryos can be analyzed for any genetic trait just after in vitro fertilization with PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) which is accomplished by removing a single cell from an early embryo and using the DNA in that cell to analyze the genetics.  This way, doctors and genetic counsellors can select against disease traits or crazy parents can select for hair color.  If our world gets to the point where this technique is routine and readily available, then incredible geniuses like Hawking would not have been born.  Neither would Beethoven because of his deafness or even Abraham Lincoln because of his suspected severe depression


Stephen Hawking has left his mark on the Earth for all to see, we now understand the cosmos more than we ever have, we have someone to champion colonizing other lands and Hawking has even managed to make a scientist seem sexy.  Happy Birthday Stephen!  We at Science in Seconds thank you for your incredible contributions to the universe. 



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