Friday, May 9, 2008

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture Part-1

The "Last Lecture"

On September 18, 2007, an unknown computer science expert delivered a lecture to students at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, USA. The hour long speech by Randy Pausch has become a phenomenon since. The transcript of this speech by Randy Pausch is reproduced below.

I am flattered and embarassed by all the recent attention to my "Last Lecture." I am told that, including abridged versions, over six million people have viewed the lecture online. The lecture really was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful. But rest assured; I'm hardly unique. Send your kids to Carnegie Mellon and the other professors here will teach them valuable life lessons long after I'm gone.

-- Randy

Randy Pausch: [Responding to a standing ovation] Make me earn it. [laughter] It's wonderful to be here. What Indira didn't tell you is that this lecture series used to be called the Last Lecture. If you had one last lecture to give before you died, what would it be? I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it. [laughter]

So, you know, in case there's anybody who wandered in and doesn't know the back story, my dad always taught me that when there's an elephant in the room, introduce them. If you look at my CAT scans, there are approximately 10 tumors in my liver, and the doctors told me I had -6 months of good health left. That was a month ago, so you can do the math. I have some of the best doctors in the world. Microphone's not working? Then I'll just have to talk louder. [Adjusts mic] Is that good? All right.

So that is what it is. We can't change it, and we just have to decide how we're going to respond to that. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don't seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you. [laughter] And I assure you I am not in denial. It's not like I'm not aware of what's going on. My family, my three kids, my wife, we just decamped. We bought a lovely house in Virginia, and we're doing that because that's a better place for the family to be, down the road.

And the other thing is I am in phenomenally good health right now. I mean it's the greatest thing of cognitive dissonance you will ever see is the fact that I am in really good shape. In fact, I am in better shape than most of you. [Randy gets on the ground and starts doing pushups] [Applause] So anybody who wants to cry or pity me can down and do a few of those, and then you may pity me. [laughter]

All right, so what we're not talking about today, we are not talking about cancer, because I spent a lot of time talking about that and I'm really not interested. If you have any herbal supplements or remedies, please stay away from me. [laughter] And we're not going to talk about things that are even more important than achieving your childhood dreams. We're not going to talk about my wife, we're not talking about my kids. Because I'm good, but I'm not good enough to talk about that without tearing up. So, we're just going to take that off the table. That's much more important.

And we're not going to talk about spirituality and religion, although I will tell you that I have achieved a deathbed conversion. [dramatic pause] ... I just bought a Macintosh. [laughter and clapping] Now I knew I'd get 9% of the audience with that ....

All right, so what is today's talk about then? It's about my childhood dreams and how I have achieved them. I've been very fortunate that way. How I believe I've been able to enable the dreams of others, and to some degree, lessons learned. I'm a professor, there should be some lessons learned and how you can use the stuff you hear today to achieve your dreams or enable the dreams of others. And as you get older, you may find that "enabling the dreams of others" thing is even more fun.

So what were my childhood dreams? Well, you know, I had a really good childhood. I mean, no kidding around. I was going back through the family archives, and what was really amazing was, I couldn't find any pictures of me as a kid where I wasn't smiling. And that was just a very gratifying thing. There was our dog, right? Aww, thank you. And there I actually have a picture of me dreaming. I did a lot of that. You know, there's a lot of wake up's!

I was born in 1960. When you are 8 or 9 years old and you look at the TV set, men are landing on the moon, anything's possible. And that's something we should not lose sight of, is that the inspiration and the permission to dream is huge.

So what were my childhood dreams? You may not agree with this list, but I was there. [laughter] Being in zero gravity, playing in the National Football League, authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia

I guess you can tell the nerds early. [laughter] Being Captain Kirk, anybody here have that childhood dream? Not at CMU, nooooo. I wanted to become one of the guys who won the big stuffed animals in the amusement park, and I wanted to be an Imagineer with Disney. These are not sorted in any particular order, although I think they do get harder, except for maybe the first one.

OK, so being in zero gravity. Now it's important to have specific dreams. I did not dream of being an astronaut, because when I was a little kid, I wore glasses and they told me oh, astronauts can't have glasses. And I was like, mmm, I didn't really want the whole astronaut gig, I just wanted the floating.

So, and as a child [laughter], prototype 0.0. [slide shown of Randy as a child lying in floatingformation on a table top] But that didn't work so well, and it turns out that NASA has something called the Vomit Comet that they used to train the astronauts. And this thing does parabolic arcs, and at the top of each arc you get about 25 seconds where you're ballistic and you get about, a rough equivalent of weightlessness for about 25 seconds. And there is a program where college students can submit proposals and if they win the competition, they get to fly. And I thought that was really cool, and we had a team and we put a team together and they won and they got to fly.

And I was all excited because I was going to go with them. And then I hit the first brick wall, because they made it very clear that under no circumstances were faculty members allowed to fly with the teams. I know, I was heartbroken. I was like, I worked so hard! And so I read the literature very carefully and it turns out that NASA, it's part of their outreach and publicity program, and it turns out that the students were allowed to bring a local media journalist from their home town.

[laughter] And, [deep voice] Randy Pausch, web journalist. [regular voice] It's really easy to get a press pass! [laughter] So I called up the guys at NASA and I said, I need to know where to fax some documents. And they said, what documents are you going to fax us? And I said my resignation as the faculty advisor and my application as the journalist. And he said, that's a little transparent, don't you think? And I said, yeah, but our project is virtual reality, and we're going to bring down a whole bunch of VR headsets and all the students from all the teams are going to experience it and all those other real journalists are going to get to film it.

Jim Foley's [who is nodding in the audience] going oh you bastard, yes. And the guy said, here's the fax number. So, indeed, we kept our end of the bargain, and that's one of the themes that you'll hear later on in the talk, is have something to bring to the table, right, because that will make you more welcome. And if you're curious about what zero gravity looks like, hopefully the sound will be working here. [slide shows videotape from Randy's zero gravity experience] There I am. [laughter] You do pay the piper at the bottom. [laugher, as the people in the video crash to the floor of the plane on the video] So, childhood dream number one, check.


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