How Stephen Hawking, diagnosed with ALS decades ago, is still alive

By Terrence McCoy

On April 20, 2009, a moment arrived that doctors had foretold for decades. Stephen Hawking, a scientist who overcame debilitating disease to become the world’s most renowned living physicist, was on the cusp of death. The University of Cambridge released grim prognoses. Hawking, diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21, was described as “very ill” and “undergoing tests” at the hospital. Newspapers ran obituary-esque articles. It seemed time was up for the man who so eloquently explained it.

But, as is his custom, Hawking survived.

Hawking shouldn’t be able to do the things he now does. The 73-year-old shouldn’t be able to deliver meditations on the existence of God. He shouldn’t be able to fret over artificial intelligence or humanity’s capacity for self-destruction. And he most definitely shouldn’t be able to attend the BAFTAs — Britain’s academy awards — settled inside the wheelchair that has carried him for decades, expressing admiration for a recent biopic that paid homage to his struggle. But yet, he is. And he does.

[Stephen Hawking says that ‘aggression,’ humanity’s greatest vice, will destroy civilization]

It’s difficult to overstate the lethality of ALS, the condition with which Hawking lives. The disorder can befall anyone. It first brings muscle weakness, then wasting, then paralysis, ripping away the ability to speak and swallow and even breathe. The ALS Association says the average lifespan of someone diagnosed with the condition is between two and five years. More than 50 percent make it past year three. Twenty percent make it past year five. From there, the number plummets. Less than 5 percent make it past two decades.

And then there’s Hawking. He has passed that two-decade mark twice — first in 1983, then in 2003. It’s now 2015. His capacity for survival is so great some experts say he can’t possibly suffer from ALS given the ease with which the disease traditionally dispatches victims. And others say they’ve simply never seen anyone like Hawking.

Read more » The Washington Post
Learn more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/02/24/how-stephen-hawking-survived-longer-than-possibly-any-other-als-patient/?tid=sm_fb

Secret to the Apple Car Is the Battery

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When news leaked that Apple could produce an electric car as early as 2020, lots of people had visions of driving a sleek, white, environmentally friendly automobile with a big iPad running down the center console. The number of employees Apple had already poached from Tesla and other car makers implied that Chief Executive Tim Cook had ambitions that went far beyond auto software like its existing CarPlay. Reports outlined the many ways that tech’s golden child could disrupt the car industry. Auto execs were put on notice: Apple the Unstoppable is coming for you.

Read more » Bloomberg

In the Time It Takes to Read This Story, a Solar Array Will Go up Somewhere

The marketplace for solar power isn’t cooperating with pessimists

Solar panels are super cheap, with prices down more than 75 percent in five years. Just $0.70 a watt! That’s great news, even if few people can explain what a watt feels like exactly.  And the future is growing even brighter, according to a report released today from the independent German research group Agora Energiewende. The analysts report that leading global projections of world energy use may be missing the big picture: “Most scenarios fundamentally underestimate the role of solar power in future energy systems,” the report states. The price of silicon panels is no longer the cost headache it’s been historically. How much sun a location gets, the authors write, is less than a factor than many might think. What increasingly matters is financing costs.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-24/in-the-time-it-takes-to-read-this-story-a-solar-array-will-go-up-somewhere-i6jrbr4x?hootPostID=d7724d162a760d8a3b726708c34ed292

Argentina seizes Falkland Islands… with help of 50 pesos

More than 30 years after Argentinian forces made a failed attempt to seize the Falkland Islands from the British, Argentina’s Central Bank has announced the introduction of a 50 peso note with the archipelago emblazoned on the front.

On the reverse side of the colorful note is an image of Antonio Rivero, the Argentinian rebel leader who led an 1833 uprising in an effort to reclaim the islands from the British. Rivero, today a folk hero in the South American country, is pictured on horseback waving an Argentinian flag above his head.

The new banknote, which is worth £3.70 ($4.20), is scheduled to enter circulation next month.

Central Bank President Alejandro Vanoli explained that the goal of the new banknote is to “incorporate the Argentine nation’s unwavering claim over the Islas Malvinas [as they are known locally] into an element of daily use.”

Read more » http://rt.com/news/235279-argentina-banknote-falklands-britain/