Monday, June 28, 2010

Weightless Hawking

If you saw the interview on ABC earlier this month, you learned that British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking - who has had ALS* for an unprecedented 46 years - now has movement in only a single muscle in his cheek, which he uses to operate his electronic speech synthesizer. This makes it all the more gratifying that Hawking was able to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams by experiencing weightlessness on April 26, 2007. "It will be bliss to be weightless," he said before the flight on a so-called "vomit comet," a specially-modified Boeing 727 that flies parabolic arcs to train astronauts. The experience, offered by Zero G Corporation, is also available to the public at $4,950 per person. After his 90-minute flight featuring 8 25-second bouts of weightlessness, Hawking said,"It was amazing. The zero-g part was wonderful. I could have gone on and on....I recommend the experience to everyone." If you would like to follow his advice, but can't afford the steep price tag, you might consider a freefall experience in a vertical wind tunnel.

*Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known in the U.S. as "Lou Gehrig's disease."

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