Return of the time lord

From The Guardian:

Hawk2_1 Stephen Hawking can only communicate by a twitch in his right cheek, yet his attempt to explain the universe to ordinary people has made him the world’s most famous living scientist. His 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, clung to the bestseller lists for 237 weeks. It sold one copy for every 750 people on earth – even if they didn’t all read it – and earned him cameos in cult shows such as the Simpsons and Star Trek. In a rare interview he talks to Emma Brockes about disability, why women can’t read maps and thinking in 11 dimensions.

I ask if he gives two hoots that there aren’t many top women scientists, and if he has an idea as to why. “It is generally recognised that women are better than men at languages, personal relations and multi-tasking, but less good at map-reading and spatial awareness. It is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that women might be less good at mathematics and physics. It is not politically correct to say such things and the president of Harvard got in terrible trouble for doing so. But it cannot be denied that there are differences between men and women. Of course, these are differences between the averages only. There are wide variations about the mean.”

It’s been said, primarily by your ex-wife, that you have nothing but contempt for the arts, in particular medieval Spanish poetry [her PhD subject]. “Not entirely. An awful lot of the arts world is mediocre or sham. But there are a few great works that have a direct effect on people.” These two questions have taken almost three-quarters of an hour to answer. I ask: “If you could go back in time, who would you rather meet, Marilyn Monroe or Isaac Newton?” and after 10 minutes he says in that voice that makes the blandest statement sound profound: “Marilyn. Newton seems to have been an unpleasant character.”

More here.

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