Stephen Hawking, Amendment 35, and a HRSA grant
A few days ago I saw Stephen Hawking interviewed by Larry King. The interview was quite scripted, of course, because Hawking now needs to communicate by a retinal detector system linked to an artificial voice. That this now nearly completely physically debilitated man can remain at the leading edge of discovery is one of the remarkable stories of our time. The topic was Hawkings new book (which I am eager to read) about the creation of the universe. The interview dwelt on the almost comical question of whether there are mathematical and physical answers to the question of the existence of God.
A follow-on discussion among Larry King, a Jesuit professor, a physicist who co-wrote the book, and Deepok Chopra was good entertainment. What was most notable to me, though, was a comment by the physicist. He said that a key driver for the book was the new knowledge we have discovered in recent years that it is not only possible for something to emerge from nothing, and for something to return to nothing, but that this happens all the time. Even his estimation that there are 10 to the power of 500 universes just like the one we now perceive did not seem as impressive to me as that something-from-nothing fact. Wow.
On Thursday this week (September 16) the Center for Public Health Practice, in collaboration with CDPHE, will host an all-day meeting at the Doubletree Hotel here in Denver on Amendment 35. A few years ago Amendment 35 funding for disease prevention programs seemed to emerge from nothingness a substantial amount of new funds for creative and effective new prevention programs. Then came the waning: the current low period of funding brought about by the Great Recession. The meeting this week is not to weep, but to plan for the future. Amendment 35 funds will be restored someday, hopefully in 2012, and again something new will emerge. Just what that something might be will be the topic of our imagination and discussion.
This morning I was notified by HRSA that the federal government will fund the Colorado Public Health Training Center, a 5-year $3.2 million effort to train the Colorado public health workforce to be all it can be in prevention. That is not something out of nothing, but nonetheless something indeed.