Rania Khalaf

It was not until today – October 23 2005 – that I found out that Stephen had passed on. I had just met a Phillipino scientist who worked in holography, Percival Almoro, in the laundry room at the University of Stuttgart. I’d been out of the holography ‘loop’ for about 8 years. So I went back to my computer to look Stephen up and catch up with what he’s been up to in the last, well too many, years since I’d last looked. Maybe send him a note. I saw the ‘in memory’ note on his webpage.

How could that be.. Stephen had made my first semester at MIT exciting: I got to play with lasers and make holograms and it actually fulfilled a major requirement (Institute Lab Class). That was cool. Much cooler than what most other Freshmen were doing in class. He had read my first lab report at the end of the semester, which a little more engineering education later made me realize that it read more like a transcript of a live TV show, sprinkled with optics. I was so naive as to take the instructions literally: report how the lab was going – along with mishaps and excited expressions (like: “oh no!”) . I do hope it made him smile a little. He gave me my first job coz I had a knack for optics – when I couldn’t even write a single line of code. I remember filling in my timecard for my first paycheck. He was always ready with support, advice, and a smile; never a hint of hierarchy. How could he be gone, now?

How could I have missed it? It’s all over the Internet… It took a meeting between a Lebanese and Philipino in a laundry room in Southern Germany.. what are the odds . One thinks good people will live forever, and time flies.

Stephen was a great man, not just in his scientific abilities but mainly for me – a 17 year old first semester freshman, continents away from home for the first time ever, being eaten alive by MIT – he was amazing in his humanity. The world looks slightly dimmer to me now.

Software Engineer, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

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