Stephen Hawking turns 72 today. A Brief History of Time introduced difficult concepts about the physical universe to the general public in terms it could easily understand. He has done for physics what Bertrand Russell did for Philosophy, what Joseph Campbell did for James Joyce (and mythology in general), and what Alan Watts did for Buddhism and the Tao. In the Far East, people like this are known as "fingers pointing to the moon." We can marvel at the man, whom we respect and honor and appreciate for his contributions, but in the end, it's that big bright circle in the sky - the one he's pointing to - that deserves the bulk of our attention. And not just the moon, but the universe itself. Or as Stephen would say "many universes," for he is an advocate of the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics, which implies that all possible histories and futures are real, each representing an actual world or universe of its own. Imagine that.
Last year, a much praised movie about him, The Theory of Everything, gave a glimpse into this man's life and struggle. Here's a trailer, followed by an audio version of his astonishing book.
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING