The Magic of Stephen Hawking
DURING A WEEK IN MARCH, 1999, was an invited speaker at the American Physical Society Centennial meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The Society also had me do my Magic Tricks-Science Facts show all over Atlanta that week for Jr. and Sr. high schools, for the public in auditoriums, and at the Fernbank Science Museum. It has been claimed that this was the largest meeting of physicists ever held, over 8,500 by official count. To my great excitement, Stephen Hawking was the guest of honor and would be present for my performance.
At an evening cocktail party people milled around waiting to meet Stephen Hawking. When he glided into the room in his wheelchair, the place grew silent. Just being in the same room with him gave us all a sense of awe. People went up and started to talk to him. He responded with his voice synthesized computer.
Then I got up the nerve to walk over to him and ask him if he liked magic. His response: "I love magic?'
"Would you care to see some tricks? I asked. He responded as enthusiastically as you can through a computer voice synthesizer: "Yes!"
With a deck of cards I did some color changes, made the full deck vanish, and then produced the cards from my mouth. He laughed at the unexpected end. The press photographers went crazy taking many photos of me, Bob Friedhoffer from the Bronx, entertaining the man who might arguably be the most influential scientist of the 20th century's latter half. He is the Michael Jordan of science, the Bruce Springsteen of cosmology.
Then I gave up my spot to someone else, and enjoyed talking to some of the other guests at the party.
Later we went to the Civic Center to hear Hawking give his presentation, a talk entitled "The Universe in a Nutshell?' His explanations (aided by some visuals) were exhilarating. Not only did he make the cosmos understandable, he made it enjoyable, and even funny.
Afterwards there was a small party for invited guests, including my daughter Nikki, her friend Shondra and myself. …