Geese And Lemmings
Flying|November 2019
Either Way, We Are Not Alone.
David Mamet

In California, my current home state, one is surrounded by quite a few within the populace whose level of inanity seems as homogeneous and predictable as that of the Three Stooges. Perhaps the state motto should be changed to: “Too many lemmings, not enough cliffs.” But I say, in the midst of this mélange, one finds, profession by profession, the greatest practitioners in the world. Deny it who can, explain it who may—there it is.

My wife, Rebecca, and I had somehow made the acquaintance of Kip Thorne and his wife, Carolee, and invited them over for dinner. Kip was an astrophysicist and recipient of every award in his field, including the Nobel Prize in 2017.

He was the world’s authority on Einstein and best friends with Stephen Hawking. Rebecca and I were invited for dinner at the Thornes’ to meet Hawking but declined, as the journey for someone on the west side of Los Angeles is less imaginable than would be, to an astrophysicist, a voyage to Alpha Centauri. One may eventually get to the stars, but no one can cross the (North-South) 405 Freeway on a weeknight. So we missed out on meeting Stephen Hawking. But we spent a rollicking evening at our joint in Santa Monica with the Thornes, while Kip most graciously shared with us—and in everyday language— some of what he was up to, gossiping merrily about black holes and differences in the gravitational field.

Well, the hour got late, the wine was awfully good, and as our friendship deepened, Kip revealed the most cherished aspect of his current endeavors. He had been instrumental in convincing the government to build what I recall as “gravity-testing stations” around the world to confirm, if possible, his—and perhaps Einstein’s and Hawking’s—theories. How would I know? I bought Hawking’s book, but (perhaps like you) I found I was not smart enough to read it.

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