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By Neke Carson

It was bound to happen.  After years of listening to the same old monotone voice drone on and on, over and over, day in and day out, week after week, hour after hour, the famed British physicist Stephen Hawking has informed his collogues that he is getting a new voice.  And on top of that he is demanding, in no uncertain terms, that he will settle for nothing less than the voice of “Charo”, the Spanish musician and entertainer, also known the world over as the “Cuchi-Cuchi” lady.

Charo who studied guitar under Segovia is thrilled, “Can you imagine what’s it gonna’ be like when we get together and have a little talk?  Cuchi-Cuchi in stereo, baby!”  Needless to say the scientific community at Oxford, where Mr. Hawking holds Isaac Newton’s chair, is basically up in arms and has threatened to take Mr. Newton’s chair out from under him, plus not allow him to lecture on campus.  This is just when Professor Hawking was about to make a major pronouncement concerning new insights into the Theory of Everything, which is the Holy Grail of theoretical physicists.

Several theories, as to why this voice change is happening now, have been put forth by different cosmologists.  “Just when we thought Mr. Hawking’s brain should be slowing down a bit, it seems that a negative force centered around the libido is making it accelerate at a terrific speed”, says a long-time associate.  There is some kind of energy that we can’t see or detect that must be doing this.  It is throwing all our mathematical calculations as to the weight of his thought into a tizzy.  To some, in this rarefied world of thought experiments and Bubble Theory, it all seems so inelegant and lacking in the kind of symmetry favored by today’s scientists.  To them it is pure chaos and that is no theory.  For so long, Mr. Hawking seemed to be in a steady state of consciousness, publishing his findings and working well with others.  But this whole trans-gender voice change question causes all the common sense laws of etiquette in classical physics to break down completely.

Meanwhile, Professor Hawking willingly admits he has been secretly working with Steven Jobs and Charo to come up with the necessary software in order to build a vowel and consonant digital library that comes directly from Charo’s larynx so as to rule out any distortion in the modulation of his new voice.  “After a few false starts, I should have my new voice in a matter of weeks!” Stephen droned.  Demonstrations for and against the acquisition of a new voice for Stephen have torn this sleepy academic community apart.

Some like the idea of combining one of the greatest minds of this or any century with a warm enduring voice known to millions, not to mention one that possesses quite an infectious giggle.  Others seek compromise, such as combining the two voices in order to get a sort of electronic Charo or “Charobot” voice.  But computer voice fundamentalists will have none of it.  The latest campus poll indicated that 56% of women were pro-choice on the matter.  “It’s his body, his voice and his choice”, they chanted at a rally outside the Student Union building.  “But we have to listen to him,” shouted the counter-demonstrators.

Mr. Hawking is staying above the fray by working on a new public lecture, which has been booked for the Albert Hall in London, and is already sold out.

On a dreary overcast Tuesday evening, full of raindrops, umbrellas and foreboding, a large gaggle of royals, commoners and rock stars filed into the august hall and one by one quietly took their seats.  Flamenco guitar poured forth from the sound system putting the crowd in a state of calm before the much-anticipated storm.  After the music slowly faded, the stage lights went up and the giant red curtains opened to reveal a semi-transparent screen from floor to ceiling covering the entire stage.  There, behind the scrim in silhouette, was what looked like a man in a motorized chair and another figure.  Then the man behind the screen began to talk in the voice of Charo.

“Good evening all you wonderful little muchachos and muchachoettes out there, have I got news for you!” Stephen seemed to say.  And thus began one of the most dense and all encompassing lectures about the nature of the universe in English, pidgin English and Spanish ever given.

He spoke for nearly an hour, projecting visuals on the screen between himself and the audience to better illustrate concepts like fake universes, imaginary time, M-Theory, violating Occam’s Razor, the Big Rip and the location of the multiverses.  He concluded by equating the red shift in stars to just so much lipstick on the face of dark matter. But it wasn’t until the Q and A period of the program that the give and take between professor and audience produced some more telling insights.

When asked, “Where is the intersection between Science and Religion?” Steven replied, “The first thing you look for is common ground.  In this case, the one thing Science and Religion have in common is their intolerance for each other.  That being said, I would like to point out some of their other striking similarities.”  As he spoke these words an unlabeled pie chart appeared on the screen.

Cosmologists will show you a pie chart that they call The Standard Model of The Universe.  It is divided into three segments.  The first segment takes up 70% of the pie, and the second one 25%, and the third one 5%.  These are the different elements that make up our universe.  The Cosmologist will tell you that 70% of the universe is made up of Dark Energy.  It is invisible, which means we cannot see it or detect it.  The next segment is Dark Matter at 25%, which is also invisible and cannot be seen or detected.  The only segment we can see and detect is the 5% one.  And that is called the Visible World.  How do we know something is there even though we can’t see it or detect it?  Because the mathematics tells us so.  It is Numbers in other words that reveal these truths.  But since most of you are not mathematicians you are just going to have to take the scientists on their word that their numbers are correct.  Like Mayan priests, scientists give lay people information as a scientific form of revelation while looking for verification.

A western theologian looks up at the same pie chart and sees the Judeo-Christian concept of God.  This Supreme Being is divided into three segments.  Maybe the proportion of these segments are a little more mysterious but, nevertheless, one portion, God the Father, could easily correspond to the Dark Matter of the scientist’s pie chart.  And one portion, that is called Dark Energy in one chart, could be called the Holy Spirit in the other chart, inasmuch as they are both all energy with no mass (except on Sundays).  The only part of the Standard Model Universe pie chart you can see is the Visible World.  The only part of the Godhead pie chart you can see is the one that became flesh, and thus seeable in the Visible World, namely God the Son.  You are asked to believe this concept not by the sanctity of numbers like the scientist but by the sanctity of revealed words.  Since most of you are not theologians you need faith that these words are correct.

Both pie charts consist of two parts invisible and one part visible.  So they are, in essence, the same chart just with different labels.  What does this mean?  Is there some kind of scientific religious parallel here?  Or does it mean that western scientific thought is so unconsciously caught up in religious thought that even scientists who say religion plays absolutely no part in their calculations end up touting a model of the universe that has the same dynamics as a 2000 year old recipe for a Supreme Being.  They are both the same.  Everything that is in one chart is contained in the other.  And as we all know from our musical history, Everything is Everything.  Thank you and good evening”

With this, the screen on the stage goes up to reveal Professor Hawking in his chair and with him that wonderful international entertainer Charo who is blowing kisses to the crowd.  But what did this portend?  As the audience left the concert hall the question remained.  Who really gave the lecture?  Was it Charo or was it Stephen?  Was it the lady or the physicist?  Did Stephen really change his voice?  Had he just been messing with our collective heads all along?  In terms of who really gave the lecture, it was more like the famous thought experiment of Schrödinger’s quantum cat; you might say they both did and both didn’t.

[Copyright (c) Neke Carson 2007]