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Stephen Hawking, universally beloved scientist and one of the greatest minds of our generation, has died at age 76.

The theoretical physicist, best known for his work in cosmology (particularly with black holes), was both a visionary and an inspiration. Outside his vast intelligence (of which he was very modest, once saying that people who boasted about IQs were losers), he was also a study in resilience and perseverance.

At the age of 21, Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The disease progresses quickly, and Hawking was given only a short time to live, but he survived for decades and stayed mobile with use of a wheelchair.


Hawking never stopped working, writing about the nature of the universe and traveling from country to country to lecture enthralled audiences.

"Although there was a cloud hanging over my future," Hawking said of his diagnosis,"I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research."

Stephen Hawking being honored with the Congressional Medal of Freedom. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

In 1988, Hawking published "A Brief History of Time," which accomplished, as The Independent notes, the "impossible" tasks of not only taking the entire history of time and space and relating it all in just one volume but also making it easy to read and understand for everyone — not just fellow scientists.

"However, if we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists," Hawking wrote at the end of the book. "Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God."

Hawking's influence exceeded the field of science. He was a pop culture phenomenon and an arbiter of great advice — not just on the nature of the universe, but on life itself.

(After all, he was on "The Simpsons." And who didn't love him dropping an epic burn on Jon Oliver.)

“My goal is simple," Hawking once said of his work. "It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

Hawking was an inspiration for us all.

He will be deeply missed. And as the celebration of his life flows on social media — who could forget the time he threw a party for time travelers and no one showed up — we're celebrating Hawking's contributions to this world with some of his most inspirational quotes, the ones that remind us to look forward, look upward, and never forget the common humanity we all share.

Stephen Hawking meeting with Nelson Mandela. Photo by Denis Farrell/AFP/Getty Images

On moving forward in the face of adversity:

"Be curious. However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up."

On the importance of a sense of humor:

"Life would be tragic if it weren't funny."

On the universe:

"It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love."

On what makes humans unique:

"We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special."

On the power of communication:

“For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn't have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”

On the true meaning of intelligence:

"Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change."

On creating your own fate:

"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."

On knowledge:

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

On the power of possibility:

"Time travel used to be thought of as just science fiction, but Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the possibility that we could warp space-time so much that you could go off in a rocket and return before you set out.”

On living your best life:

"Here are the most important pieces of advice that I've passed on to my children. One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away."

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


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