Sorry about the long absence in my blog, but I suddenly got
overwhelmed with work and simply didn’t have the time. (To be quite honest, I
probably don’t have the time now, but writing this blog is another thing that
helps me relax.) So, as promised last time, I’ll tell you how I got to meet
Stephen Hawking (for the second time)!
Now, I don’t consider myself a girly-girl by any means.
You’re more likely to find me wearing sweats and a t-shirt to class than a cute
sundress, but one thing that I have always enjoyed is dressing up for formal
occasions. There’s just something nice about getting dolled up: it reminds you
that you can still enjoy yourself every once in a while, and I find it a great way to
relieve stress and have fun. Caltech offers us this opportunity no less than
once every quarter in the way of a formal dinner (or dress dinner as it’s known
in Dabney). We all dress in our formal best and have a nice reception and
professionally waited dinner, which includes a special menu with a three-course meal. We
are allowed to invite guests to these occasions, and any staff or faculty of
Caltech are allowed to attend free of charge to encourage student-faculty
interactions, which is highly encouraged through multiple programs on campus.
Normally, the houses hold formal dinners in the last few
weeks of the term, but this term we received a special request from none other
than Stephen Hawking, who was making his annual visit to the university and
wished to have dinner with us, but he only had one night free. Of course, we
immediately accommodated his wishes, and our Vice President (who is in charge
of organizing dress dinners) put together a wonderful party. I got to sit at
the same table with Hawking and his good friend Kip Thorne, who only recently
retired from teaching at Caltech. There were many other guests at the party,
including professors, graduate students, and undergraduate parents.
The evening was a lot of fun, and at the end Kip Thorne got
up and spoke for a long while about his and Hawking’s history, revealing to us
that Stephen Hawking was made an honorary member of Dabney house about 20 years
ago, and has since been returning every 10 years with Kip Thorne to have dinner
with us. After the meal, many photos ensued, and here’s one with two friends,
Kip Thorne, Stephen Hawking, and myself.