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Stephen Hawking Was Wrong, And That's How He Became So Great

Getty Images / Frederick M. Brown

His life teaches us science means changing your mind when you learn more

Stephen Hawking was wrong, really wrong, about the nature of information loss and black holes.

So he thought about it for a while — about 29 years — before he had a better understanding of the problem.

His life wasn’t a story, really, about genius. Rather, this was a story about an advanced monkey, on a minor planet, near an average star, who believed we could all understand the universe, deeply, if we were just persistent and stayed passionately curious.

And so I read his books and I believed it, too.

I’m grateful, really deeply grateful, for the lesson, but not on quantum mechanics or the nature of expanding time. Rather, Professor Hawking taught us that science was a way for us to transcend our own, sometimes difficult, lives, and that knowledge of ourselves and our existence was possible if we could accept those answers.

Mostly, he taught us that you can be dead, stupid wrong about something for damn near a lifetime, but your ability to admit that wrong and fill it with new and better understanding is what makes us extraordinary.

Bye for now, professor. Back to the Stars you go. 

Dr. Jaime Anne Earnest is an inter- and multi-disciplinary researcher, writer, program analyst, and policy expert working in the public health field. She last wrote for Legacy about A Wrinkle in Time.


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