Monday, September 24, 2007

The Last Lecture of Randy Pausch

The reason it's the last lecture is explained here.

Pausch, a 46-year-old father of three, has pancreatic cancer and, most likely, just a few months left.

In the last week, he has gained national attention for an inspiring and sometimes upbeat talk, titled "How to Live Your Childhood Dreams," that included one-handed push-ups, bright smiles and reminiscences of some of his own dreams met (getting a Ph.D, walking in zero gravity, writing an encyclopedia entry, designing Disney rides). "Brick walls are there for a reason," he told his audience. "They let us prove how badly we want things."

The rest of the lectures may be found at this link. Part one is below Read More!


Blogger Starling said...

The speech was broadcast live here at the Doha, Qatar campus of Carnegie Mellon and was well attended. Computer Science is one of the two degree programs we offer here and so all the faculty and many of the students know Randy personally. Seeing the speech as a new CMU faculty member, I feel privileged to call him a colleague but disappointed that I won't have the chance to meet him in person.

9/25/2007 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

One who knew him

9/25/2007 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/25/2007 12:48:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

ABC News.

9/25/2007 04:38:00 AM  
Blogger ouestmaman said...

Wretchard and Doug,

Thank you.

Randy Pausch = all that is wonderful, vibrant, outward looking, big hearted, inclusive, imagining the impossible, celebrating the unique gift of each individual, the soul of western civilization.

then there is amadinejad and the others...

9/25/2007 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

The article about Pausch appeared in last Thursday's WSJ and it was very inspiring; every day is a blessing.

The same day the WSJ also had an article about the tension between the EU and Russia as it relates to Russia manipulating/utilizing their status as an oil and gas provider for the EU.

Reminded me of the discussion here at BC...

But it is also about Russia's place in the Middle East and Europe's energy future.

The Russian daily Kommersant was no doubt exaggerating when it commented that with a "gas OPEC" under its belt,

"politically, Russia will be able to dictate any terms it wants in Europe. And the EU will be totally dependent on Moscow's political will and will have almost no leverages of its own left." ...

In any case, the positions shared by Russia and Iran are similar regarding the Caspian Sea, Central Asia, and Afghanistan.

Putin is visiting Tehran on Oct. 16 within the framework of the Caspian Asian Summit? Interesting.

9/25/2007 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I've often wondered what William Shakespeare was getting at when he wrote "the evil that men do live after them; the good is oft interred with their bones". Why does it seem easier for our bad acts to outlive us rather than the good that we do? Why do we hear it said, for example that the iniquity of the fathers shall be visited upon the children unto the third generation?

Part of the reason, I suspect, is that the world loses useful information in proportion to the value of the man lost. The good is interred with his bones. On the other hand, whatever disorder he creates will tend to increase. Thus the evil that men do lives after them. Entropy increases; that is, without us.

Those who remember the teaching and memory of a good man are, whatever the ultimate fate of man in a religious sense, preserving the information that would have been lost. Through that memory a man's good lives after him, whatever becomes of his bones. Remembrance cheats death of its victory because the information of deceased is not wholly lost. The good lives in us. Memory is a form of survival.

And therefore I am sure that it was not wholly coincidental that Randy Pausch chose to give a Last Lecture. He knew what he was doing. He wanted us to keep the undying part of him in a place where it might grow and prosper. Do we remember what Dostoevsky said about the "one memory" in Brothers Karamzov?

... some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days ... What’s more, perhaps, that one memory may keep him from great evil and he will reflect and say, ‘Yes, I was good and brave and honest then!’ Let him laugh to himself, that’s no matter, a man often laughs at what’s good and kind. That’s only from thoughtlessness. But I assure you, boys, that as he laughs he will say at once in his heart, ‘No, I do wrong to laugh, for that’s not a thing to laugh at.’"

But Pausch's corny jokes were things to laugh at. He wanted us to laugh and to go on. The rest is up to us.

9/25/2007 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

wretchard said...

"Why does it seem easier for our bad acts to outlive us rather than the good that we do? ... Thus the evil that men do lives after them. Entropy increases; that is, without us."

The second law of thermodynamics is an expression of the universal law of increasing entropy. What we call "good" is an isolated and transient event that is ultimately driven by the Sun's energy radiating into empty space. The hardest truth is that eventually everything we know and love must disappear into chaos.

9/25/2007 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

Thanks for bringing this wonderful person to my attention.

Elija's comment about Russia is interesting. Seems Russia is trying to improve at 4GW.

Salaam eleikum, Yall!

9/25/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I think it was Paul Tillich who first observed that the problem of death was universal. "Nature, also, mourns for a lost good." Several scenarios are often interchangeably associated with the Fate of the Universe, about which there are several ideas none of which actually involve an end to all things. But the relevant question is actually more restricted: what is the fate of information processing, or life, broadly speaking, in the universe?

And on that account the idea is that Heat Death will bring about the end of life when there isn't enough free energy to continue information processing. The universe might continue to "exist" indefinitely but it will be one in which sentience, as we know it, will have no physical basis to continue. Individual death is a common concept; but the idea of universal death is more striking. This may be philosophically disturbing to environmentalists because in a very literal sense their "god" will die. Their god shares the fate of man, albeit on a larger timescale.

Many religions, strangely enough, have primitive concepts of the "end of the universe", commonly described as eschatology. Rev 21:1, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth and the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." Etc. Eternal life and the life of the universe are disconnected.

Those who want to continue life in this universe have proposed a variety of schemes, all of which roughly require creating haven or environment in which information can escape heat death or exploiting certains structures to allow life to live for the literal equivalent of an eternity. Life struggles to survive.

And that I guess is where the trail of human reason peters out; it would be wonderful to live a few hundred million years more to see how it all works out. But that is probably not our task. Our task is to transmit the life that we have and to hold up the roof for as long as we may against the oppression of death. And the rest we leave to those that come after. You know the quote:

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule. ... All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

9/25/2007 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Sara Gold said...

Some lessons from Randy Pausch’s last lecture that especially moved me:

1. Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.
2. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
3. Never lose the child-like wonder.
4. If we do something which is pioneering, we will get arrows in the back. But at the end of the day, a whole lot of people will have a whole lot of fun.
5. Be good at something; it makes you valuable.
6. If you live your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, and the dreams will come to you.

Check out the tribute quiz on the lecture at : you can add your own questions at the end of the quiz.

10/29/2007 12:07:00 PM  

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