Raymond Kurzweil (b. 1948) was born in New York to Austrian-Jewish parents who escaped Europe before the start of World War II. He was fascinated by science-fiction from a young age and by age 5, decided that he wanted to be an inventor. He was already designing and building computers by 12, and developed a theory for the neocortex of the brain by 14. The following year he wrote his first computer program, and a couple years later won the International Science Fair for creating a computer that could compose music. While studying at MIT, he created a program that matches high school students with colleges, and sold it for the equivalent of about $700,000 in today’s value. In 1974, Kurzweil created a scanner that could read most fonts, then used the technology to create a reading machine for the blind. At the behest of Stevie Wonder, Kurzweil then turned to improving music technology, inventing a new generation of synthesizers whose quality was indistinguishable from that of live instruments. Kurzweil went on to develop one of the first speech recognition systems, followed by devices that assist people with learning disabilities, blindness, ADD, and dyslexia. He published his first book in 1990, followed by six more to date, mostly about the future of technology, as well as nutrition and health. Five of the books have been bestsellers. Many of his predictions about the future have already come true. Kurzweil has won a great number of awards, and has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, while being described as one of the “revolutionaries who made America”. He now works full-time for Google, developing machine learning and language processing. When he dies, Kurzweil intends to have his body cryogenically frozen and stored until a future time when technology might resurrect him.
Words of the Week
If you drop gold and books, pick up first the books, and then the gold. – Sefer Hasidim
Meir Schneider (b. 1954) was born in Ukraine and moved with his family to Israel at age 5. Both of his parents were deaf, and Schneider was born with severe vision problems. After undergoing five major unsuccessful eye surgeries, doctors pronounced him permanently legally blind. At the age of 17 he discovered the work of American ophthalmologist William Bates, who devised a method for natural vision correction through various eye exercises. Schneider started training diligently, sometimes up to 13 hours per day, and saw results very quickly. Within 6 months he could recognize objects; within a year and a half, he could already read without glasses. He would eventually improve his vision to the point of being allowed a driver’s license, which he still holds. Recognizing the need for countless other people to improve their vision naturally, Schneider created his own vision-healing program which is now practiced by millions of people around the world. In addition to vision therapy, Schneider has a Ph.D for his work on muscular dystrophy. His books are bestsellers and he was listed among the “Top Ten Most Inspirational Israelis”. Learn more about the Schneider method here.
Words of the Week
Answer not a fool’s foolishness, lest you come to resemble him. – Proverbs 26:4
Robert Lawrence Stine (b. 1943) began writing when he was nine years old, having discovered a typewriter in the attic of his Ohio home. His writing career took off with a series of humourous children’s books by “Jovial Bob Stine”. At the same time, he created the popular humour magazine Bananas, which ran for 72 issues between 1975 and 1984. But it was in another genre that Stine really lit up the literary world. In 1986 he began writing horror novels and soon after launched the most famous series of horror books of all time: Goosebumps. Between 1992 and 1997, R.L. Stine published an incredible 62 Goosebumps novels (with over 100 additional spin-off volumes in subsequent years), selling over 400 million copies and making him among the wealthiest authors in the world. He was named America’s number one best-selling author by USA Today. Among many other awards, Guinness gave him the world record for best-selling children’s book series of all time. Goosebumps was translated into 32 languages, and became a hit TV show that ran for four seasons. It also spawned three video games. Along with his humour and horror books, R.L. Stine has written adult fiction and science fiction. An equally famous series of books are R.L. Stine’s Fear Street, with over 100 titles published. A prolific writer, few know exactly how many books Stine has written, with estimates ranging from 300 to 500 books, or even more – perhaps another reason why Stine was on People‘s list of the world’s “Most Intriguing People”.
Words of the Week
Nothing is life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. – Marie Curie