Stephen Hawking Was Offered Euthanasia in 1985 and Turned It Down to Keep Rocking

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The guy with the sexy ladies is Stephen Hawking.  Most people know him as one of the smartest mophos in the known Universe.  He has a very advanced case of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease (as it’s known here in the US, or motor neuron disease in some countries), which negates his speech, movement, breathing, swallowing, and pretty much everything else that can go wrong in the body.  It’s proof that if there happens to be a god in the Universe, he is one cruel bastard.

Stephen Hawking got really terribly ill in 1985 with a case of pneumonia, while he was writing his book A Brief History of Time.  Stephen and his first wife Jane were in Switzerland at the time — a time that Hawking calls “the darkest of my life.”  Doctors were so concerned about Stephen that they offered his first wife Jane the option of unplugging Stephen’s life support, thus ending the world the benefit of learning from his incredible mind.  From an article at Wikipedia, confirmed by a source at Medical Daily:

During a visit to CERN in Geneva in the summer of 1985, Hawking contracted pneumonia which in his condition was life-threatening; he was so ill that Jane was asked if life support should be terminated. She refused but the consequence was a tracheotomy, which would require round-the-clock nursing care, and remove what remained of his speech. The National Health Service would pay for a nursing home but Jane was determined that he would live at home. The cost of the care was funded by an American foundation. Nurses were hired for the three shifts required to provide the round-the-clock support he required. One of those employed was Elaine Mason, who was to become Hawking’s second wife.

When I read this the first time before I decided to write about it, all of the hairs on both of my arms stood up.  Stephen Hawking is one of my life’s heroes, I have been reading his books and papers since I was a young boy, when I learned that Science was my life’s calling — to think of having grown up without his influence in my life would have been one of the most detrimental things imaginable to me.  From the article at Medical Daily:

“The doctors thought I was so far gone that they offered Jane [the option] to turn off the machine,” Hawking, 71, says in the film. “The weeks of intensive care that followed were the darkest of my life.”

Hawking describes to documentarians the progression of the disease, which kills brain cells controlling essential involuntary muscles as the victim loses speech and ambulatory functions. He was initially diagnoses with the disease in 1963 and given two years to live, but continued to work and became an accomplished researcher and professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge.

“Slowly the drugs worked, though a small incision in my throat robbed me of my ability to talk,” Hawking says. “I was then put on a ventilator and hopes of finishing my book seemed over.”

For the sake of the world’s knowledge of the Universe, I am so glad that Jane had the forethought to forego the Euthanasia option.  Stephen has been divorced twice, and is apparently an avid attendee of the strip club culture.  Hey, we’ve all been there, Stephen!

Something I noticed missing in the myriad articles about Stephen Hawking’s potential but passed opportunity for euthanasia was what he has done since turning down the euthanasia way out.  Don’t you find it a little short-sighted that news stories mention that he was offered euthanasia but none of what he’s done since turning it down?

Since 1985, Stephen Hawking:

  • had three children and been married twice
  • published the best seller, A Brief History of Time
  • was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1985), the Paul Dirac Medal (1987), and jointly with Roger Penrose, the prestigious Wolf Prize (1988)
  • was named a Companion of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II in 1989
  • co-edited a book on Euclidean quantum gravity with Gary Gibbons
  • had a movie made of “A Brief History of Time,” directed by Errol Morris and produced by Steven Spielberg
  • appeared on Star Trek:  The Next Generation in 1993
  • became a grandfather!
  • got to take a zero-gravity flight in the Vomit Comet
  • lost a bet to Higgs that the Higgs Boson would never be discovered
  • has developed Locked-In Syndrome :(
  • was awarded the Copley Medal from the Royal Society (2006), America’s highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009), and the Russian Fundamental Physics Prize (2012).
  • and, among other numerous list items, narrated the Enlightenment segment of the 2012 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony

Stephen Hawking, thanks for sticking with it.  We here at JimOnLight.com salute you!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NIKOLA TESLA! You Were A BADASS!

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Who is THAT?!  Wait, is that — is that Nikola Tesla?!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Nikola Tesla!

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

Well, it’s birthday time for one of the most prolific inventory of humanity — Nikola Tesla’s 207th birthday is today (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943)!  If he was still alive, I would definitely suggest we have a Tweet-up and buy that man a round!  A man who thought all human beings should have free energy, believed in the power of peace, and created more useful inventions than most people alive today — Nikola Tesla is one historical badass.  He also got legally fornicated by Thomas Edison, which is another post altogether, but still managed to do unbelievable work on alternating current electricity.

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We here at JimOnLight want to share your amazingness with the world:

The History of Nikola Tesla – a Short Story from Jeremiah Warren on Vimeo.

Also — from The OatmealMAD PROPS to our man Nikola Tesla!  I cross-post this with every positive intention possible:

nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-1 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-2 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-3 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-4 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-5 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-6 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-7 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-8 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-9 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-10

We celebrate your life here at JimOnLight.com — and here’s a toast to hoping someone makes your dreams of free energy generating devices and perpetual motion systems a reality!

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Until next year…  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NIKOLA TESLA!

Passing Through from Olafur Haraldsson on Vimeo.

Tesla’s obituary:

tesla-death-new-york-times-1943-small

 

Thanks to The Oatmeal, Wikipedia, The Daily Kos, EEP, and Brad DeLong!

The 25th Anniversary of Rick Hutton’s 25th Birthday

People of Light:  If you’re looking for someone to look up to, I submit Rick Hutton for your approval.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being at Rick Hutton’s 50th birthday (ohdamn) I mean the 25th anniversary of Rick Hutton’s 25th birthday.

Let me just say that I had a freaking blast.  I was in the company of pretty amazing people – being in the company of truly awesome people gives me so much energy and happiness.  It also is pretty great to be around so many mothers and fathers of the entertainment lighting industry.

I have to tell you a little about this party…  What exactly would you expect at a party from someone who started and runs the most successful and high-quality gobo business in the world?  Yeah.  You’d expect it to be awesome.  This party was awesome.

If you don’t know who Rick Hutton is, you need to know Rick.  Rick is one of the coolest people I have ever met on planet Earth.  I met a few people on Venus, but typically they were made of viscous layers of sulfuric acid.  Definitely not as cool as Rick Hutton!  Rick is the owner of two very awesome businesses – InLight Gobos (@InLightGobos on Twitter, and facebook.com/InLightGobos) and Laser Surplus Sales, which is awesome if you’re a laser dork like me.

Rick has also become the first member of the Light Associated Media, LLC Board of Advisors.  That was my birthday present to Rick.  I feel so great that I have such a knowledgeable lumen scientist on the board!

Rick’s had all kinds of awesome in the lighting industry.  The lighting industry is partly what it is today because of Rick and the people that worked with Rick and the people Rick learned from early in the industry.  Rick was on the big Van Halen tour with the 1500 PAR cans that drove the ShowCo guys to develop the VL-0.  Rick also worked on the VL1, VL2 (my favorite), VL4VL5 (for which he and some other great people won an Emmy), VL6, VL7, and other stuff that is so effing awesome and monumental that it just kinda still blows my mind.

Rick’s also just a great guy and friend.  Wherever Rick is, there is happy.  Whatever Rick does, it’s friendly.  He’s become a great friend.  I look up to Rick – as a budding laser nerd, I learn a lot from Rick.  Also, he has an awesome wife, Adriana – who is way more awesome than I can possibly describe.

The talented, beautiful, hilarious, awesome, smart, and sexy Mrs. Adriana Hutton (left):

Rick brings people together – here’s Richard Belliveau from High End Systems and Jim Bornhorst from PRG with Rick:

Here’s Rick and Dawn Crosby, a smokin’ awesome chica I met this weekend, from the initial days of Vari*Lite:

Perhaps one of my favorite pictures from that weekend – a large crowd of some of the most awesome people in all of entertainment lighting – from the left – Jim Bornhorst (PRG), Dawn Crosby, Rick Hutton, Tom Hough (White Rock Design), Richard Belliveau (High End Systems), Hunter MacIntosh (American Ballast), and John Covington (PRG):

Happy (belated) Birthday, brother.  I love you, dude!

Also – I NEVER get to be in pictures, I’ve always got a camera strapped to my face!  Here’s me and John Covington!  JOHN IS 150% AWESOME!

Me and Dr. Tom Hough, a general bad ass.  Hough, what the hell were we talking about?  It must have been hilarious!

Steve Janders and Kin Reid from the world famous ShowLasers:

Theresa and George Masek from Vari*Lite:

Chris and Scott Dopson from Gemini Lighting in Dallas:

Check out all of the pics I took from the party – in Gallery format!  Click an image, it’ll open up a full-size viewing!

Happy Birthday, James Bowman Lindsay!

Who’s that dude with the crazy curly coif? It’s James Bowman Lindsay! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, James Bowman Lindsday!

Good ol’ Jimmy BL here is a lesser known but still influential figure in the history of light and electricity.  What’s funny about Jimbo here is that he, like many of his contemporaries across the ages, wasn’t a d-bag bent on world domination and capitalistic tendencies like Edison or Westinghouse.  James was a good person with morals and values and all of those things people have told me about in my life.

(bwa, ha ha ha)

How James became involved in the industry was on two fronts – he invented an early version of an incandescent lamp, and he developed a system of wireless telegraphy that preceded Guglielmo Marconi‘s radio telegraphy devices.  James Bowman Lindsay claimed that his electric incandescent lamp gave him the ability to read a book at “a distance of one and a half feet,” and he displayed it at a public meeting in Scotland in July of 1835.  Unfortunately for Lindsay, his lack of being a ruthless scientist and businessman allowed Edison to take over the patent some 38 years later.

What was cool about Jimmy B here is that he was passionate about his work.  I mean really passionate about it – to the point where he never married, gave his whole life to the industry for the better, and died while still conducting his own research.  Now that is dedication.

We can thank James Bowman Lindsay for arc welding, submarine telegraphy, and an early form of the incandescent lamp (in addition to just being a hell of a guy and incredible astronomer, scientist, and developer).  Thanks Jimbo, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DUDE!

Thanks Wikipedia, Dundee, and Google!

iPhone Lighting Software: ZinmanCo’s PocketLD and Synthe FX’s Luminair v2

As far as iPhone software goes, “there’s an app for that,” right?  How about an app for MAKING ME A PIZZA RIGHT NOW AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

<deep breath>

Okay, I feel better.  But seriously, there are tons of apps out there for every single thing you can imagine.  The other day I downloaded an app from the iTunes store that played these crazy soundscapes to help you fall asleep.  Awesome.  As far as lighting goes, there are tons of apps out there for that, too.  But I think it takes more than the skill of coding an app to make an iPhone app – hell, there are programs out there that generate iPhone apps out of a website feed or a podcast stream, and apps that really do nothing at all.  You have to have an understanding of the basis of what you’re doing in order to make a useful iPhone app.

Two such iPhone app developers are Ryan Hisey from Synthe FX (makers of Luminair) and Mike Zinman of Zinman Software (makers of PocketLD and many others).  Both are pushing updates this week to their popular iPhone suites.  What these two guys do forges the way.  End of story.

First, Zinman Software’s PocketLD – a program that International Cinematographer’s Guild Magazine called one of the top five apps for filmmakers and cinematographers:

PocketLD V2.0 Now Available on the iTunes App Store

LONG BEACH, CA – ZINMAN SOFTWARE, makers of the popular lighting related iPhone apps, announces the release of PocketLD v2.0. PocketLD allows lighting professionals in theatre, film and TV to calculate the FC/LUX and Beam/Field Diameters for over 2000 fixtures and lamps.

V2.0 adds the functionality for users to edit the existing library, create their own fixtures and organize these fixtures into an improved Favorites List. New fixtures included in the library include Dedolight, K5600 and Kobold.

Developer Michael Zinman says “This is our most ambitious update for PocketLD since it was released two years ago. I’m so happy with these changes and I’m confident our world-wide user base will find the new functions a great add.”

Recently, PocketLD was featured in ICG Magazine (International Cinematographers Guild) as one of the top five apps for filmmakers and cinematographers.

For more information, visit www.zinmansoftware.com

Direct download of PocketLD v2.0 on the App Store is available by following the link below.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocketld/id292911261?mt=8

About Zinman Software.

Zinman Software is a technology leader in applications for the event production industry. Among their products are a number of iPhone apps including Genielux, ML Finder, Pocket LD, Gel Calc, iSwitch DMX and TCP/IP Remote. For more information visit www.zinmansoftware.com.

Ryan Hisey and Synthe FX’s Luminair v2 – a lighting control suite that turns your iPhone into an amazing lighting tool for programmers, designers, lighting directors, and lighting technicians in all trades.  I mean, 36+ hours on batteries?!  Fuhgeddabadit.  Luminair v2 is being developed to do some amazing things in CAST Software’s wysiwyg, Release 25. More on that later, but be sure that it will rock!

Synthe FX release Luminair v2.0 for iPhone & iPod touch
Cincinnati, OH, February 25, 2010 – Synthe FX have released Luminair 2.0, a major upgrade to the wireless multi-touch DMX control app for iPhone and iPod touch. Luminair is revolutionary wireless lighting control software, which uses the Art-Net protocol to control
compatible lighting equipment and media servers via the iPhone and iPod touch’s internal Wi-Fi hardware.

Among the new features in v2.0 is “Stacks”, which is a cue-list playback system designed to make it very easy to put together shows for a wide variety of uses. Cues can be programmed directly within Luminair, and also recorded as snapshots from an external console or any other DMX control source. Standard playback life using the device’s internal battery can run up to
3.5 hours, and can be extended to over 36 hours using a 3rd-party external battery pack. Playback will run indefinitely when the device is plugged into a power source.

Another major new feature in Luminair 2.0 is the ability to assign images as visual references to cues, using the iPhone’s built-in camera, photo library, or transferred via Luminair’s internal web server. Users can browse and trigger Quick-Touch cues using a CoverFlow view, which renders the assigned images in breathtaking OpenGL 3D. Also dependent on the new image
reference support in version 2.0, is the ability to export “Fixture POV” images and data directly over Wi-Fi from Cast Software’s next release of WYSIWYG R25.

Other notable new features in 2.0 include full group support, cut/copy/paste capabilities, accelerometer support for XY controls, plus extensive additions and refinements to the existing feature-set. Company founder and lead product developer Ryan Hisey says “The ability to program and playback shows directly from an iPhone or iPod, for periods lasting greater than 36 hours on batteries is really amazing. We’re really excited to see how our customers push the boundaries of automated lighting control.”

“In this release, we also took advantage of a lot of the great features that are built-in to the iPhone and iPod touch, such as the accelerometer, camera, and photo library. The images in CoverFlow look absolutely amazing, and users can easily add their own custom images and icons via multiple convenient methods. Additionally, we are very excited to be working with
Cast Software, who is a highly respected industry leader, on such a groundbreaking new feature for lighting pros.”

Availability
Luminair 2.0 is available for download now, exclusively from Apple’s iTunes App Store. For all existing customers, version 2.0 is a free upgrade. Full product details, videos, and screenshots can be seen at http://synthe-fx.com/luminair

Keep up the excellent developing, dudes.

Happy Birthday, THOMAS ALVA EDISON!

Honey, where’s my car ke-OMG, IS THAT THOMAS ALVA EDISON?  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Thomas Alva Edison!  DUDE!  It’s the “Wizard of Menlo Park!!!”

(actually Tommy’s birthday was yesterday, but I had a gig and I was gone all day so don’t say anything) TOMMAAAAAY!

So, those of you who know Tommy A. Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) probably know him for, um, INVENTING THE LIGHT BULB and all.  Tommy Boy and Joseph Swan actually battled it out death-match style on the invention of the light bulb (we all know who it really was), but it turned out that Mr. Edison here was the better businessman and capitalist.  I mean, look at that face – doesn’t it just scream “you can make all the rules you want, I will make money in spite of them” on his face?

Tommy Edison was actually quite the inventor.  He started out as a telegraph operator (apparently termed “brass pounder”) and persevered through some tough times financially to become the holder of almost 1100 patents.  The motion picture camera, the “quadruplex” telegraph, the carbon microphone (in the first telephones) and, among many others, a patent for the “carbonized bamboo” filament.  Joseph Swan was the first actual inventor of the electric lamp, but Edison’s design and research actually turned out a better, more efficient version.  Edison’s bamboo filament was said to burn for over 1,200 hours.  That’s more than some lamps I’ve bought at the store this year!

Big Tom Edison’s also accredited for the invention and design of the phonograph – the “record” player, for any of you crazy kids who don’t actually know what this is.  (I wanted to cry when a young student in Arlington, TX asked me “what this thing is” while holding a turntable in her arms)

Check out a video of Edison reciting his first recording, a voicing of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” in 1927:

Also, another very, very hip video is Edison talking about his invention, the “electric light bulb” and its development:

One thing that Thomas Edison did that is essential to our development as a technically adept species was to implement and develop a mass-production system for industrial operations.  That bit of knowledge he imparted to the industrial trades is revolutionary.  He is also credited with creating the first industrial research laboratory, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.  This place had a little bit of everything – Edison wanted to store some of “almost every conceivable material” in this place so that he and his people could invent freely with no inhibitions.  The Menlo Park facility took two city blocks to house.  Holy geekfest – that must have been almost as awesome as the Mythbusters Studios!

Edison’s Menlo Park lab:

To be fair, there are a couple of pretty un-awesome things that Edison did that are noteworthy, one of which led to the development of the electric chair.  George Westinghouse was one of Edison’s competitors, and probably most well known for alternating current.  Edison and Westinghouse had a pretty fierce and nasty battle over whose invention was better – direct current (Edison) or alternating current (Westinghouse).  In the “War of Currents” that ensued, Tom Edison was so persistent on proving that Westinghouse’s AC was unsafe (regardless of the fact that it was actually better than his DC for long-distance distribution).  Edison and his people publicly electrocuted animals to show that AC essentially killed them quickly.  Yeah, Tommy, that wasn’t very cool of you, dude.  One notable execution was Topsy the Elephant – a Coney Island attraction that killed three abusive handlers over the course of three years.  Edison filmed this event – I didn’t feel good about embedding it in this post, so here’s a link to it, via a post about Topsy the Elephant.  That video on the site is not terribly graphic or anything, but it’s freaky in its own right.  I’d kill somebody that was abusing me like they did you, Topsy.

Topsy was electrocuted with a 6,600VAC source.  Maybe AC triumphed over DC in the long run because of some bad karma Thomas brought on with his war on alternating current.

Thomas Edison was attributed with the following quote, which kinda cracks me up after reading the above research:

The dove is my emblem…. I want to save and advance human life, not destroy it…. I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill…

So, enough pointing out a man’s flaws on his birthday – thanks for all of the good things you did, Thomas Alva Edison!  Just a few more things we can thank Tommy Boy here for (a non-exhaustive list):

  • the fluoroscope (an x-ray that takes radioscopic images)
  • the stock ticker (well, okay, but really who needs that?)
  • the Lackawanna Railroad’s electric trains (Hoboken to Gladstone, Montclair, and Dover, NJ)
  • Edison General Electric
  • the printing telegraph
  • Typewriting machines (and all kinds of associated parts and pieces)
  • the magnetic ore separator
  • brakes for electromagnetic motors
  • a patent for preserving fruit
  • governors for electric motors
  • the telephone (and other related stuff)
  • the arc lamp
  • a gold extracting process from sulphide ores (random…)
  • wireless telegraphy

Thanks Tommy!  If you ever come back to life, I’m buying the first beer.  If you come back to life as a zombie, I ain’t promising nothing.

Just as something to watch that explains a little more about Edison’s involvement with the Electric Chair, here’s a copy of The Pinky Show – “Thomas Edison Hates Cats.”  There is a tiny clip of Topsy’s execution in there, so just be warned.  The video is, however, presented by a talking cat:

Thanks, Wikipedia, Worldwide School, and Thomas Edison!