Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is it a miracle? Or is it a determination?

I've only 2-hour-lecture class every Thursday. I always feel like skipping the class as I go to my campus for 2 hours just for 1 lecture. However, I was glad as I didn't skip today's lecture. I learned something significant at the end of the lecture, a inspirational story which I feel strongly to share.

The lecturer started by asking us a few questions. Imagine how your life would be if you lost voluntary movements at the age of 21 and were diagnosed to have less than 3 years to live? It would be a lifeless life as there was no schooling, no sport, no career, no marriage, no friendship and no family.

2 catastrophes befell on Professor Stephen William Hawking in year 1963 and 1985 which were great setbacks. Professor Hawking was diagnosed with an incurable disease at the age of 21 which later was found out to be Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He never expected that he could finish his PhD as he was told to have 3-year-live left. ALS is a fatal neurological disease that attacks neurons responsible for voluntary movements. Patients with ALS cannot perform any voluntary movements, suffer the difficult of breathing and experience problems with decision-making and memory. They may probably succumb to the breathing failure within 3-5 years from the onset of symptoms. It's unfortunate that the cause and sure of ALS are yet to be found.

What a miracle it is as Professor Hawking is still alive today and active after 44 years of being diagnosed with ALS.

In 1985, Professor Hawking caught pneumonia and he underwent an operation which removed all his ability to speak. The only way he could communicate was to spell out words letter by letter, by raising his eyebrow when someone pointed to the right letter on a spelling card. This was pretty hard and inconvenient. Later, a computer expert, Woltozs sent Professor Hawking his program called Equalizer which enabled Professor Hawking to use his only movable index finger to select word by pressing a single button. Then, David Mason of Cambridge Adaptive Communication fitted a small portable computer and speech synthesizer in Professor Hawking's wheelchair which made him able to speak up to 15 words per minute.

Professor Hawking got another 2 personal setbacks in year 1991 and 2006, as his first marriage to Jane failed due to his increasingly disabilities and his second marriage to Elaine Mason failed as a result of violence and abuse mentally and physically.

He got motivation from a dying boy in the hospital "I had been in hospital, I had seen a boy I vaguely knew die of leukaemia, in the bed opposite me. It had not been a pretty sight. Clearly there were people who were worse off than me. At least my condition didn't make me feel sick. Whenever I feel inclined to be sorry for myself I remember that boy."

Despite all these setbacks, Professor Hawking proved the Beginning and End of Universe scientifically, solved Black Hole Paradox and discovered Hawking's Radiation. Moreover, he has done numerous achievements and received many awards. He publishes many books as well.

Professor Hawking said his greatest achievement is ".... being alive today."

My lecturer ended the story by telling us "some people live for fortune, some people live for fame, some people live for power, but he lives for his dreams..."

My friend joked that because of Professor Hawking, he has to study the unfathomable Quantum Physics. In fact Professor Hawking's ideas are so advanced to be proven, and this is the reason he has not been awarded Nobel Prize(the recipient's findings must be proven).

Where there is a will, there is a way... I think this is what Professor Hawking believes and makes his life so meaningful...

I felt so embarrassing after listening to the story, as being a normal person with all the abilities given by God, I still lament this and that... As what I wrote in my previous post "What belongs to me", I think that the more we get into life, the more suffering we are... I was wrong, I should not be so greedy, I should be grateful of what I have. Perhaps the destination is not that important as long as we enjoy the process.

Here are some links of the website about Professor Stephen Hawking:

Welcome to Professor Stephen Hawking's Website

Stephen Hawking from Wikipedia

The Stephen Hawking Pages
Hawking Summary

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