Wednesday, 14 March 2018 18:32

RIP: Dr. Stephen Hawking

Beloved physicist Stephen Hawking passed away early Wednesday morning. He was 76 years old. Hawking long suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), aka, “Lou Gehrig's disease.” He was diagnosed in his early twenties and doctors gave him 3 years to live. The neurological disease affects the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement. And the disease is progressive, meaning the symptoms get worse as time passes. There is no cure and it is known to ravage bodies quickly. So when doctors told Dr. Hawking that he had 3 years to live, that was a pretty fair estimate.


Instead, Dr. Hawking lived with ALS for 55 years even though it reduced his muscle control such that he could only blink his eyes and twitch a finger. He retained his mental faculties and became a giant in his field. How did Stephen Hawking live so long with ALS? According to King’s College clinical neurology professor Nigel Leigh, it was probably because D. Hawking was diagnosed so young. In the British Medical Journal Leigh states, “We have found that the survival in younger patients is strikingly better and is measured in many years - in some cases more than 10.”


From my limited understanding of the medical research behind ALS it sounds as if most of those with ALS become symptomatic in their 40’s or later, and then don’t live long. The younger you become symptomatic the longer you can survive. That being said, living 55 years with ALS seems like something of a miracle.


Hey, wasn’t that ice bucket challenge thing all about ALS?


It was! I’m glad you remember. I’m sure many of you recall the ice bucket challenge (IBC) from 2014. A challenge where you pour an icy bucket of water over your head OR you donate money to ALS research OR you do both. It quickly went viral with celebrities piling up to perform their version of the IBC.  Patrick Stewart’s was my favorite.  The viral challenge was deemed a colossal success and raised $115 million for ALS research. Here is the video of Stephen Hawking and his family participating in the IBC.


Much has been written about Professor Hawking, movies have been made, documentaries have been produced, he’s authored best selling books, he’s been published in many, many science journals and magazines. I will leave it up to you to find them.


ALS ravaged Dr. Hawking’s body but thankfully left his mind intact. And what a great mind it was. Dr. Hawking, I will always remember you, as yourself, on Star Trek: TNG.


Rest in peace.


A few words from his friends and colleges from their twitter accounts:


Dr. Bill Nye (Science Guy):


While here on Earth, Dr. Hawking made pondering the cosmos and our place within it commonplace. The extraordinary became everyday. Although his time was brief, his work changed the world.”


Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson:


“His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018.”


Matt Selman, Executive Producer The Simpsons:


View image on Twitter


“Farewell to Stephen Hawking, the most intelligent guest star in the brief history of The Simpsons.”


Official Big Bang Theory account:


“In loving memory of Stephen Hawking. It was an honor to have him on The #BigBangTheory. Thank you for inspiring us and the world.”


Learn more about ALS.


Donate to the ALS Association.


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GCN proudly welcomes Michio Kaku’s long running radio program Science Fantastic to our weekly line up! Professor Kaku probably needs little introduction but introduce him I must. And so, from Wikipedia:


Professor Kaku is a Japanese American theoretical physicist, futurist, and popularizer of science. He is professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Center. Kaku has written several books about physics and related topics, has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film, and writes online blogs and articles. He has written three New York Times best sellers, hosted several TV specials for networks around the world and since 2006 has broadcast his radio program Science Fantastic -- previously syndicated by Talk Radio Network and now, beginning at midnight on Saturday December 30th will be nationally syndicated by the Genesis Communication Network - that would be us.  =)


The Science Fantastic show page will be up on the GCNlive site ASAP with more program and affiliate information to follow.


We’re very excited to have Professor Kaku join the team and we hope you’ll tune in to -- Science Fantastic!





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Greetings interstellar traveller / hyperbolic asteroid 1I/2017 U1, welcome to our solar system!


Technically you’ve been here for quite a while  just passing through, drifting about, minding your own asteroid business but we’ve only just found you! You have no way of knowing this but, you’ve been named -- ‘Oumuamua from the Hawaiian word meaning “scout” and generally translates as “scout from the past.” You have a very lovely name. Also, for clarification, that first character in your name is a Hawaiian ‘okina, not an apostrophe.


Our Earth scientists have long suspected that tens of thousands of space rocks, such as yourself, have visited our fine solar system but until recently we were unable to detect you all.


That all changed, of course, when very smart folks at Haleakala Observatory (in Hawaii) brought the first Pan-STARRS telescope (PS1) online. ‘Oumuamua -- just to be clear, this PS1 is totally different than what you probably believe a traditional PS1 to be (currently upgraded to a PS4).  The PS4 stands for “PlayStation” 4 and is a kick ass console blu ray / game player.  The PS4 according to wikipedia:


“ a line of eighth generation home video game consoles developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment.”


The PS1, the one we used to find you, stands for “Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System” (Pan-STARRS). The PS1 according to wikipedia:


“… consists of astronomical cameras, telescopes and a computing facility that is surveying the sky for moving or variable objects on a continual basis, and also producing accurate astrometry and photometry of already detected objects.”


As you can see,  ‘Oumuamua, not quite the same thing.


Anyway. We don’t know exactly where you came from as that would be extremely difficult to figure out, but for now, our best guess is star Vega, about twenty five light years away. That being said, we are certain you are indeed from another solar system as, according to this astrophysical survey your orbit would be virtually impossible to achieve within our solar system. Our solar system that we have cleverly named, “Solar System” -- because that’s how we roll.  


You; however, roll quite a bit different. You are red (the color of organic carbon-based molecules), extremely elongated (thirteen hundred feet which is ten times long as you are wide -- you look like a giant space cigar) and you travel at approx.85,000 mph.


For comparison, ‘Oumuamua, I once lived in NYC and dated a woman in Washington DC. It order to visit her on weekends, it would take me about 3.7 hours to drive the distance between us. It would take you .0026 seconds to make the same trip!


That’s fast!


Well, it looks like you’re just kind of passing through, so I was just sayin hi.  It appears as if you’ll lap Jupiter sometime around May, then pass Saturn in January 2019 and eventually exit stage left en route to the Pegasus constellation sometime after that.


By all accounts it appears as if you’re just a really long mineral rock asteroid and you don’t carry any sort of super cool alien species. You know, cool little guys like that adorable Invader Zim or those E.T. phone home cuties. And I certainly hope you are not rudely carrying those evil little alien pricks from Alien and Aliens and all those not worth mentioning by name subpar sequels.


Actually, with that in mind, ‘Oumuamua, just in case you ever watch James Cameron’s Aliens, when characters refer to the alien species as a “xenomorph” they are not suggesting “xenomorph” is the name of the alien species on LV-426. They are using the word from the Greek construct - xeno, meaning “foreign” or “strange” and morph, meaning “a shape or form” which means in the context of the film the characters are suggesting the aliens in the movie are “strange foreign forms” -- an alien life form.


Again -- xenomorph is a generic term for an alien life form.


Xenomorph is not the name of this species.


Just wanted to clear that up for you, ‘Oumuamua. You know, in case it ever comes up in conversation with your asteroid buddies.


That’s all I got. Nice to meet you.


Be well!




If you like this story you might like The Paracast which broadcasts live here at GCN. 

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If you have more than one wireless phone line, switching to another carrier isn’t necessarily easy, but I can only give you my personal experience in considering the possibilities.


So I desperately want to cut the price, but I need lots of bandwidth and solid coverage wherever I travel. One of the people on my current plan, with AT&T, lives in a rural area of Arizona were reception is just terrible. But he tells me that, based on the experience of a friend, T-Mobile ought to deliver better service in his area.


I’ve looked at the coverage maps, and it does appear that T-Mobile is second to Verizon Wireless in that region. But as many of you know, coverage maps are at best an approximation of the quality of service you’ll actually receive. You may not know the truth until you make the switch. But even if you get a great deal, and T-Mobile even offers to pay off your current handset purchase plan to get your business, there’s no guarantee service quality will suit your needs.


But after you’ve switched to the new carrier, transferred the phone numbers and maybe traded in your old equipment, what if you realize you made a mistake? Carriers will usually allow you to cancel your service if you’re not satisfied. T-Mobile’s offer is 20 calendar days after you receive your equipment.


Does this mean you get the gear you traded in back? Can you then return to your old carrier, move the numbers back, and go about your business as if nothing happened? I can’t see how this is going to be an easy process unless you own all your equipment outright and can go where you want, assuming the carrier’s network is compatible. They don’t make it easy, so assume that switching is going to be a one-way street without being forced to jump some large hoops.


In any case, on this weekend’s episode of The Tech Night Owl LIVE, we presented outspoken commentator Peter Cohen, who, in response to Gene’s search for a better deal with a wireless carrier, talked about T-Mobile, its advantages and limitations. He mentioned the Band 71 issue, the new 600 MHz spectrum that T-Mobile is rolling out to some parts of the U.S., and the fact that flagship gear from Apple, Samsung and other companies are not yet compatible. The discussion moved to the new Apple TV, the issue of cable/satellite cord cutting, and the dangers of fragmentation, where there are so many services vying for your subscriptions that it may become must too expensive to watch all the new shows that require separate memberships. What about the new iPhones, and especially the iPhone X with Face ID for logging in rather than Touch ID? What about macOS High Sierra, which is officially released on September 25th, the day this article posts. Does the lack of support, at least for now, for all those Macs with hybrid Fusion drives cause any problems?


You also heard from columnist Joe Wilcox, who writes for BetaNews. He explained why he recently switched from T-Mobile to Verizon Wireless, mostly to improve coverage, but is now considering a return to the former. The discussion covered the ongoing dilemma of choosing the right carrier. And what about published reports that T-Mobile and Sprint, the two smaller major carriers in the U.S., might be ready to ink a deal and merge? It’s not the first time this move has been rumored. Gene and Joe also talked about the new productivity features in iOS 11, and whether they might impact the use of the iPad as a productivity tool. There was also a brief discussion of macOS High Sierra before the conversation moved to the Apple Watch Series 3, which comes in a version with LTE so you can use it to make phone calls without connecting it to an iPhone. Does this huge step now liberate the Apple Watch so it can do most things all by itself? Does the future take us away from a big smartphone to a tiny smartwatch?


On this week’s episode of our other radio show, The Paracast: Gene and guest co-host J. Randall Murphy submit themselves to questions about UFOs and their background in the field of Ufology from Paracast listener Louis Sheehan. Gene talks about his history as a UFO researcher and writer, and about a series of recurring nightmares during a period when he constantly smelled the odor of burnt sulphur, both of which may have significance as paranormal events. Gene also discusses at length his favorite episodes of The Paracast and debates, with Randall, the original and current meaning of the acronym “UFO,” and why Gene is not necessarily a believer in the most popular theory, that the flying saucers are spaceships from other planets. As Gene often states, would we even recognize the product of a highly advanced spacefaring technology?




The entertainment industry has given us one thing, and sort of taken away something else, and it all begins with the fifth generation Apple TV, which adds 4K and HDR as its main new features.


So as the new set-top box shipped, Apple announced an important change to the iTunes movie rental policy in the U.S. So up till now, you had 30 days to start watching the movie. So far so good, but once you began, it would self destruct in 24 hours. If you weren’t finished, that’s too bad; just rent it again.

That was not a policy set by Apple to inconvenience their customers. It was clearly enforced by a greedy and paranoid movie industry that didn’t recognize reality. There may be many reasons why someone can’t finish a movie. Whether a family matter or something else interrupts the process, it doesn’t matter. Did the industry really believe that people will happily rent a movie a second time without protest?


Well, the policy has changed. It’s now a slightly more reasonable 48 hours. It’s probably enough for most people, but it still fails to respect the customer. After all, you could rent a physical movie from a video store — when there were video stores — and hang onto them for a few days before you had to return them without the late fees. The original Netflix DVD rental model allowed you to keep one movie until you wanted another, in which case you sent the one you had back, and another was shipped in its place. What you paid per month depended on how many DVDs you wanted at one time.


Yes, Netflix still allows you to rent physical movies, although that service has become a much smaller part of its business. These days, it’s pretty much all about streaming, and what you pay depends on whether you want standard definition, high definition or even 4K, assuming your ISP gives you the speeds you require for the latter, usually estimated at 25 megabits or more.


Now when it comes to 4K, Apple has begun to offer a wider range of content in the higher resolution format. At the same time, they have imposed a significant limitation on your freedom to enjoy the movies you’ve bought or rented.

On the positive side, 4K movies cost the same to buy or rent as HD, except, evidently, for Disney which does not, at least so far, support the new policy. Your existing movies can be updated to 4K without cost, when the improved versions are available. So far so good.


But in a support document, Apple says you can only download the HD version; 4K content must be streamed from Apple’s servers. There is no way to store them on your local device. What this means is that you are basically stuck if you don’t have a fast enough broadband connection, experience a temporary outage, or you’re in danger of hitting your ISP’s data cap.


Now it could be that Apple doesn’t want to overextend its servers for the time being, just playing a 4K movie will have less impact than downloading the entire thing along with all the iTunes extras. Maybe. At least until you want to watch it again.


Or perhaps, in exchange for the free 4K upgrades and the standardized pricing, the industry forced them to impose that restriction. But Apple won’t necessarily tell us, though I suppose some journalists might ask. It may well be that it’s the entertainment industry once again that wants to inconvenience us in exchange for handing us a benefit.


I cannot see where potential piracy might enter the picture. If someone wants to pirate a movie, it will hardly go through traditional channels. Such content ends up on torrent sites and other sources of illegal content.


Besides, I do believe most people are happy to pay a fair price for a product or service, and don’t have the time or inclination to want to search for a freebie. Remember, too, that illegal content is a known source of malware.


Again, I would hope the inability to download 4K movies from Apple is only temporary, and that when things settle down, you’ll have the freedom to do what you want within the usual license constraints. Or maybe it’s better to just pay a little more and buy a physical Ultra HD Blu-ray version. I see that, except for special discounts for older Blu-ray content, the 4K versions at Amazon generally carry a $5 price premium. But you don’t have to worry about streaming.


Well, you do need a player, of course, and there aren’t many of those to be had, and they are generally available at much higher prices than regular Blu-ray. And you have to watch out for the 4K upscaling players that only support HD content. They don’t play native 4K. So you’ll want to check the fine print and confirm the specs.


So if you have a bright, beautiful 4K set in your living room or bedroom, expect to pay and pay again to enjoy that content. Even then, unless the display is large enough, and particularly if it has HDR support, you may not even see much of a difference over “old fashioned” 1080p.


Oh and by the way, the Night Owl is making arrangements with manufacturers to review some 4K hardware. I’ll have more to say on that score in the very near future.




Gene Steinberg



Gene Steinberg is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. Gene hosts The Tech Night Owl LIVE - broadcast on Saturday from 9:00pm - Midnight (CST), and The Paracast - broadcast on Sunday from 3:00am - 6:00am (CST). Both shows nationally syndicated through GCNlive. Gene’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter is a weekly information service of Making The Impossible, Inc. -- Copyright © 1999-2017. Click here to subscribe to Tech Night Owl Newsletter. The full text of newsletter #930 is reprinted here with permission.


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This is an opinion supported by scientific facts from reputable sources and does not necessarily represent the opinions of GCN Live. 

While I wish the best to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, I also hope climate change deniers affected by the hurricanes realize their denial of climate change contributed to their current situation and will contribute to worse situations in the future.

Mother Earth is doing her best to convince climate denying Americans that global warming is no hoax and that people are responsible for the increasing instances and intensity of weather disasters. She started by flooding the Gulf Coast with category-three hurricane, Harvey, which AccuWeather predicts will cost America more than Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina combined.

But Hurricane Harvey was just the beginning of America’s hellish hurricane season of 2017. Floridians are now evacuating their homes as category-five hurricane, Irma, bears down on them after reportedly destroying 90 percent of buildings in Barbuda, leaving half the population homeless. The storm also left two-thirds of Puerto Ricans without power, and south Florida was placed on hurricane watch, as sea levels could rise anywhere from five to 10 feet.

If Hurricane Harvey is expected to cost more than Hurricane Sandy (a category-three storm) and Hurricane Katrina (a category-five storm) combined, then Irma will likely cost more than Harvey, Sandy and Katrina combined. But at least hurricanes Jose and Katia are expected to miss America, with Jose expected to further decimate the Caribbean and Katia headed for Veracruz.

Three hurricanes forming in the same ocean is unusual, but it’s been happening more often lately. It last happened in the Atlantic Ocean in 2010, when Hurricanes Igor, Julia and Karl followed almost the exact path of hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia. And for the first time ever in 2015, two category-three hurricanes formed in the Pacific Ocean simultaneously, with a third category-two hurricane accompanying the storms.

Some God-fearing Americans might think intensifying hurricane seasons and increasing instances of destructive weather events is God’s way of punishing us for legalizing abortion or same-sex marriage. Or maybe God is punishing communities that have allowed themselves to be overrun with illegal immigrants, even though every hurricane inevitably punishes communities with large populations of immigrants because hurricanes, like immigrants, tend to reach their destination by sea.

But Hurricane Harvey hasn’t been discriminatory when it comes to the lives it’s claimed, and neither will Irma. If America’s hurricane season from hell is really a hurricane season from heaven, there’s no evidence that God is attempting another Great Flood. In fact, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the increased instances and intensities of these storms: man-made global warming.

Three-quarters of man-made, greenhouse gas emissions are a result of human energy consumption. Those greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide and methane, are responsible for 82 percent of global warming. When Earth’s atmosphere warms, polar ice melts. When polar ice melts, sea levels rise, but it’s the extreme increase in polar temperatures that have and will continue to create more hurricanes and other destructive weather events.

Arctic temperatures up to 59 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average have not only left the size of the polar ice caps at an all-time low, but has exposed the dark depths of the Arctic sea to the sun, which further increases sea temperatures. That resulting increase in temperature narrows the difference between the Arctic sea temperature and that of southern seas. This weakens the 250-mile-per-hour winds of the jet stream that keep cold, Arctic air circulating the Arctic where it belongs. The slower jet stream winds allow cold, Arctic air to escape south, and warm, southern air to move north, resulting in more extreme weather at lower latitudes. Hence Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose and Hurricane Katia.

So the more we as a species emit carbon dioxide and methane from oil and natural gas drilling to then burn in our vehicles and appliances, the more hurricanes and destructive weather events we create. If there’s any good to come of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, I hope those climate deniers affected by the storms now have a reason to change their mind on global warming and change the way they live and vote.

One of the most common answers I get as to why people don’t do their part to limit man-made climate change is that the earth is going to die anyways, and they’re not going to be around to see it. These people are treating Earth like a possession instead of a living being. It’s as if climate deniers see Earth as a motel -- or better yet -- a prostitute. They think the transaction makes the person a possession, and since they pay Earth’s rent, they own Earth and can do whatever they want to her.

If Mother Earth is a prostitute, she’s a diseased, obese hag who’s been used up and abused too often, but that doesn’t stop people from paying for her services. Corporate executives fill her up with vibrating probes to entice her sexual secretions to the surface to be collected and sold. They run trains on her that spill toxic substances on and into her. Every trick she turns results in another ejaculation of carbon dioxide or methane into her atmosphere. As a mother, though, she has to put food on the table and pay the rent, so she has to take it lying down -- or whatever way the John wants to deliver it.

But all that abuse builds up and inevitably has to be released if Earth is to avoid suicide. So Earth unloads on the unsuspecting masses when properly triggered, discriminating against none, for no one is truly innocent. Even the recyclers and Greenpeace volunteers didn’t do enough to prevent her from resorting to prostitution. They should have been more adamant about treating Earth with respect and done more to persuade people that she’s indeed a person -- not just a prostitute. Society as a whole has failed Earth and will pay the price.

So think of Mother Earth as your own mother. Sure, she’s going to die just like Earth, but does that mean you treat her as if she’s already dead? Would you smoke around your mother knowing she struggles to breathe in her old age? Then don’t drive when you can walk, bike or take public transit. If you can afford it, buy an electric vehicle or outfit your house with renewable energy sources before the tax incentives end. You want your mother to be as comfortable as possible when she dies, so make Mother Earth as comfortable as possible when she dies. She too gave birth to you and continues to care for you even when you don’t care for her.

Denying the existence of man-made, global warming will only leave us in a cycle of perpetual rebuilding. We’ve gone and pissed off Mother Earth with our wasteful, selfish ways. It’s well past time we as Americans and as a species make up for it before it’s too late.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live

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