Stephen Hawking’s secret to surviving his terrible condition

The late-night comic had found his perfect straight man. In June 2014, John Oliver sat down with renowned theoretical physicist Stephen W. Hawking for an interview.

“You’ve stated that there could be an infinite number of parallel universes,” the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” asked Hawking. “Does that mean there’s a universe out there where I am smarter than you?”

“Yes,” Hawking replied from his wheelchair, his lips bending up into a slight smile. “And also a universe where you’re funny.”


Hawking died early Wednesday at his home in England at the age of 76. Throughout his career as one of the world’s most recognizable cosmic thinkers, he regularly threw himself into pop culture’s comedic ring with cameos on programs such as “The Simpsons” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

These appearances aligned with a plucky wit that defined Hawking’s personal life as much as his universe-shaking theoretical work. Humor, however, was not just one side of his personality, but a key to overcoming the degenerative motor neuron disease he struggled against since 1963.

“Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has maintaining a sense of humor,” Hawking said in a 2013 documentary. “I am probably better known for my appearances on ‘The Simpsons’ and on “The Big Bang Theory” than I am for my scientific discoveries.”

That humor was deployed against a terrible prognosis.

At 21, Hawking was diagnosed with a condition similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to the ALS Association, “Half of all people affected with ALS live at least three or more years after diagnosis. Twenty percent live five years or more; up to ten percent will live more than ten years.”

The disease would eventually shut down Hawking’s motor functions, rendering him speechless and unable to move without a wheelchair. Doctors initially said he would be dead in two years. His condition, however, proved to be a rare slow-acting version.

But Hawking fought through his deteriorating physical state, rising to a position as a celebrated professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge and altering the popular conception of physics with his 1988 bestseller, “A Brief History of Time.”

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Rare lunar eclipse offers glimpse of “super blue moon”

Many parts of the globe may catch a glimpse Wednesday of a giant crimson moon, thanks to a rare lunar trifecta that combines a blue moon, a super moon and a total eclipse.

The spectacle, which NASA has coined a “super blue moon,” will grace the pre-dawn skies in the western United States, as the moon crosses into the shadow of the Earth and turns blood red.


“Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” said Gordon Johnston, a lunar expert at NASA.

Other parts of the world, including Australia and Asia, will see it at night, as the moon comes up in the west.

“The last time a complete lunar cover-up took place on the second full Moon of the month was December 30, 1982, at least as reckoned by local time in Europe, Africa, and western Asia—locations where the event could be seen,” said Sky and Telescope magazine.

“The last ‘‘ total lunar eclipse visible from the US and North America happened on March 31, 1866.”

The “blue moon” aspect simply means it is the second full moon in a month, not that the moon will appear blue. A blue moon happens on average just under every three years.

It’s called a super moon because the moon, in its elliptical orbit, is near its closest point to Earth.

This proximity, or perigee, makes it appear 14 percent bigger than normal and 30 percent brighter.

The reddish tint—or blood moon—happens due to “the effect of all the sunrises and sunsets all around the planet reflecting off the moon, which I think is really lovely,” said NASA astrophysicist Michelle Thaller.

Sunrises and sunsets appear pink, red and orange because of the long distance light must travel, causing light waves to bounce in different ways, explained Thaller.

“The reason a sunrise or a sunset is red is the sunlight has to pass through a large amount of air on the side of the Earth and that actually scatters away any blue light and just lets the red light come on through,” she said.

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5 Ways to Maintain a Clean Eating Lifestyle During the Busy Holiday Season

Sometimes, we all just need a little inspiration to stay on-track to eat healthy meals, especially when life gets busy. With the holidays around the corner, consumers are surrounded by more opportunities to eat decadent dinners and indulgent party appetizers. That’s why the Just BARE® chicken brand, known for raising goodness by providing good food for more people, launched its Living Lean & Clean campaign.

Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here:

Clean Eating Recipes

Featuring clean eating inspiration from Monique Volz, a health and wellness blogger and founder of Ambitious Kitchen, the Just BARE campaign offers consumers recipes for quick meals at

“Whenever I’m the busiest I know I’m doing a mix of all of the things I love, but it’s important to keep your body on track and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” says Volz. “Avoiding processed food and making your own chicken salads are a great way to live lean and clean and also save money.”

Two good food decisions for this holiday season are recipes like Greek Salad and Thai Peanut Chicken Quinoa Salad. Both salads feature clean ingredients, such as fresh salad greens and chicken raised with no antibiotics-ever, that you can customize and layer into portable, glass jars—perfect for taking to work or eating between holiday shopping extravaganzas.

How to Eat Healthy On-the-Go

As life gets busy before the new year, Just BARE offers these five tips to develop and maintain good lean and clean habits:

Eat High-Quality Food: Clean eating is a great way to live a healthy lifestyle. It means making meals featuring ingredients that are fresh, all natural or organic.

Choose Healthy Snacks: Don’t let between-meal treats spoil your routine. Strive to have healthy snacks on-hand, like Chicken Roll-ups.

Don’t Skip Meals—Ever! Carve out time for meals, even on the busiest of days. Missing breakfast, lunch or dinner sets you up to be hungry, which can make it harder to avoid bad food choices.

Simplify Meal Prep: Make-ahead recipes, like Bento Boxes, ensure you always have rich, nutritional options, even when you’re on-the-go.

Add Flavor to Low-fat Protein: Protein can help you stay full longer and adding bold flavors to lean protein like chicken makes it as good for you as it is to eat.

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What is cyber security certification worth?

There have been a lot of interesting reactions to the Equifax data breach. One of the most interesting for me is the criticism of the Equifax CISO’s lack of technical or cyber security education. She does have Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music composition as well as a resume that shows a work history at several companies also in the finance industry. This situation illustrates the challenge we all face in identifying qualified candidates.

It is only recently that Information Security degrees have become available from universities. Most people rely on “certifications” to vet qualified candidates. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certifications are common in cyber Security job descriptions. But what is the true value of such certifications?

Certifications are issued by for-profit companies whose business model is to generate revenue by issuing certificates. On the one hand, they need to ensure a minimum “quality” of their certification holders so potential customers value the brand and are willing to pay the certification fees. On the other hand, they are encouraged to sign up as many customers as possible so the “quality bar” cannot be set too high. Once a certification brand is valued enough, there develops an education system to assist candidates to achieve the certification. You will often see “Boot Camps” that promise to fill your mind with all of the knowledge to pass the certification exam in one week. I think we can all agree that one week is insufficient to develop competency in any discipline.

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The importance of Design of Experiments (DoE)

Design of Experiments (DoE) is an important component in many industries. It is a series of tests or runs that is carried out repeatedly and consistently over a period of time, and its outputs or responses, observed. Design of Experiments is very important in industry to help arrive at an understanding of the predictability and reproducibility of an experiment.

Design of Experiments is a very important aspect of the important elements of a product, such as quality, reliability and performance. What Design of Experiments does is that it helps to examine and investigate the inputs that lead to poor quality. This insight leads the entity carrying out the Design of Experiments to use these to improve their quality standards.


Ruling out chance

Design of Experiments does not rely on chance or providence to bring about the quality that is required of an experiment. It arrives at the optimal set of procedures that are needed to get the required quality standards after a series of tests and experiments, so that the final result shows in the process that goes into the product.

Fundamentally, Design of Experiments helps to put in place a system of control for a product. All the ingredients that go into the inputs needed for obtaining a product of a defined standard or quality are scientific and precise. This precision and accuracy is arrived at after carrying out as many runs or series of Design of Experiments as needed to finally arrive at it.

An introduction to Design of Experiments

The ways of understanding Design of Experiments and applying their standards into production will be the topic of a webinar that is being organized by Compliance4All, a leading provider of professional trainings for all areas of regulatory compliance. At this webinar, the speaker, William Levinson, an ASQ Fellow, Certified Quality Engineer, Quality Auditor, Quality Manager, Reliability Engineer, and Six Sigma Black Belt, who is the principal of Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C., will explain the fundamentals of Design of Experiments.

To gain a proper understanding of the principles of Design of Experiments and to get a grasp of how to implement this concept into your systems, please register for this webinar by logging on to

An understanding of the significance level in hypothesis testing

William will make participants understand how to use Design of Experiments to identify and rule out the particular item or input that affects quality. The concept of significance level in hypothesis testing, which will serve as a basis for not only DoE, but also Statistical Process Control and acceptance sampling, will be explained.

A description of the other uses of DoE, such as supporting Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) and in process improvement, where it helps to identify and optimize the factors influenced by Critical to Quality (CTQ) characteristic, will be part of the learning that is on offer at this webinar.



Levinson will cover the following areas at this webinar:

·        Economic benefits of DOE

·        Hypothesis testing: the foundation of DOE, SPC, and acceptance sampling

o  Null and alternate hypothesis

o  Type I or alpha risk of concluding wrongly that the experiment differs from the control (or that a process is out of control, or that an acceptable production lot should be rejected)

o  Type II or beta risk of not detecting a difference between the control and the experiment, not detecting an out of control condition, and accepting a production lot that should be rejected

·        Factors, levels, and interactions

o  Interaction = “the whole is greater or less than the sum of its parts”. One variable at a time experiments cannot detect interactions.

·        Randomization and blocking exclude extraneous variation sources from the experiment.

·        Replication means taking multiple measurements to increase the experiment’s power.

·        Interpret the experiment’s results in terms of the significance level, or quantifiable “reasonable doubt” that the experiment differs from the control.

Making Big Data big in terms of effectiveness

Our world today is unthinkable without data. We seem to be flooded by it. Day in and day out, the world processes trillions of bytes. Big Data seems to be everywhere and has compounded our already heavy reliance on data.

But has this proliferation of data made any significant difference to our lives? Has it made our business decision-making any more effective or insightful? What has this surfeit of data meant in terms of usefulness and value? Does reliance on Big Data necessarily mean better business decisions?

Making sense of data

Translating tomes and tomes of this data into something that is useful is a big challenge in today’s world. This is a capability that needs to be translated into tangible, competitive strength, if quality and compliance have to be improved. Data Management and Quality metrics are important tools that can help in a host of important functions such as forecasting, resource allocation, risk management, decision making, and continuous improvement.

Susanne Manz, who is an accomplished leader in the medical device industry emphasizing on quality, compliance, and Six Sigma, will impart the insightfulness needed to make sense of Big Data to participants of a webinar that Compliance4All, a highly popular provider of professional trainings for all the areas of regulatory compliance, is organizing.

In order to understand what perceptiveness can be inculcated into understanding and analyzing Big Data to aid in decision-making, just log on to to register.

Absolutely useful aid in decision-making for management review

Management Review, among the fundamental requirements of a suitable Quality System; relies on timely, accurate and complete information to make risk-based decisions. An organization that is immersed in data that leads nowhere in helping it with the critical information to ensure product safety and effectiveness has no use from this kind of Big Data.

Organizations need to have not heaps of data, but what in it gives them the ability to measure to understand quality, compliance, and customer satisfaction. This is the test of the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of their data. The aim of this webinar is to help participants develop the data management processes that help them optimize their quality system efficiency and effectiveness.

Susanne will cover the following areas at this webinar:

o  What metrics are needed for quality and compliance success

o  Sources of data

o  Analytics capabilities

o  Descriptive and Predictive Data

o  Structure and process for managing data

o  Data Governance

o  Data Preparation

o  Using data for forecasting, continuous improvement, and management review.