The Star Trek community mourns the loss of renowned theoretical physicist and author Stephen Hawking, who died at his home in Cambridge, England, early this morning.
History-making guest appearance
Stephen Hawking is the only person to ever play himself in the history of the franchise. A longtime Star Trek fan, Hawking had toured the Star Trek: The Next Generation set during a visit to Paramount to shoot a promotional video for his bestselling book A Brief History of Time — and he made the very rare request to be taken out of his wheelchair so he could have a moment in Picard’s chair. He obviously enjoyed it, because after that he made a request (through Leonard Nimoy) to appear on the show, if there was ever a way that made sense.
Michael Piller was the one who came up with the idea of Data playing a holodeck poker game with intellectual giants, and the scene was written for The Next Generation episode “Descent.” It featured Hawking placing his bets against Data, Albert Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton.
During filming, Hawking toured the set again, and upon seeing the warp core in engineering, commented, “I’m working on that.” No doubt.
Stephen Hawking on the set of the USS Enterprise
In his foreword to Lawrence M. Krauss’ The Physics of Star Trek, Hawking wrote:
I was very pleased that Data decided to call Newton, Einstein, and me for a game of poker aboard the Enterprise. Here was my chance to turn the tables on the two great men of gravity, particularly Einstein, who didn’t believe in chance or in God playing dice. Unfortunately, I never collected my winnings because the game had to be abandoned on account of a red alert. I contacted Paramount studios afterward to cash in my chips, but they didn’t know the exchange rate.
Trek luminaries honor Professor Hawking
A number of Trek vets from in front and behind the camera tweeted their thoughts on the loss of this eloquent genius, including those who worked with on The Next Generation.
Farewell Stephen Hawking. A great man. Honored to have spent time with him. RIP.
We gave Mr. Hawking a tour of the TNG sets. @berman_rick pointed out the warp core & Mr. Hawking said, after a moment “I’m working on a space warp drive.” 1/2 of us laughed, 1/2 of us knew better. Re: the transporter set he said “What a way to beat LA traffic.” RIP Sir
TrekMovie offers our condolences to his family, his friends, and everyone who celebrated his tremendous contributions to our part of the galaxy.
“Science fiction like Star Trek is not only good fun but it also serves a serious purpose, that of expanding the human imagination. We may not yet be able to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before, but at least we can do it in the mind.”
Stephen Hawking, The Physics of Star Trek (foreword)
Donald Trump's FCC is facing yet another lawsuit, this time for being too cozy with the giant media conglomerates the agency is supposed to be holding accountable. FCC boss Ajit Pai is already facing a bipartisan investigation by his own agency for gutting media consolidation rules specifically to help Sinclair Broadcasting grow significantly larger. Now, the agency is facing a lawsuit for the same reason, spearheaded by a platoon of consumer groups and organizations including Common Cause, Communications Workers of America and the United Church of Christ.
In a statement, the coalition accuses the FCC of turning a blind eye to the public simply to aid massive media conglamorates.
The groups petition, filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, argues that the agency has failed to consider the impact of its decisions on localism, diversity and competition in broadcast ownership. The complaint notes how the FCC relaxed cross-ownership and local television limits--and subsequently ignored these companies' use of Joint Sales Agreements and Shared Services Agreements (JSAs and SSAs) to evade additional ownership limits.
In short: an agency that's supposed to be protecting the public is simply interested in gutting decades-old rules to help already massive companies become larger and more profitable, with zero interest in the negative impact of such deals on competition, media diversity, and the quality of programming.
"The Pai FCC is a gift to the broadcast industry, as the commission bends over backwards to give favors to massive media conglomerates like Sinclair," the coalition said in a statement. "What s more, the FCC is attempting to ram through this deregulation without doing its homework. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has directed the agency--three times--to examine how its media ownership rule changes impact broadcast ownership diversity. Shamefully, and in direct violation of the court s orders, no proper evaluation has occurred."
The lawsuit adds to a rather full plate at Trump's FCC, which is already facing not only a Inspector General investigation, but numerous lawsuits for its net neutrality repeal, and multiple GAO investigations into the agency's decision to ignore identity theft and fraud during the net neutrality repeal. Pai's FCC is also facing several lawsuits for ignoring FOIA requests regarding the agency's contact with telecom industry lobbyists.
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