Randy Pausch Answers Your Questions

Thousands of viewers sent question to Randy Pausch, and here are some answers.

ByABC News via logo
October 2, 2007, 6:20 PM

Oct. 3, 2007 — -- Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch's last lecture has become something of an Internet sensation -- more than half a million people viewed it at ABCNEWS.com, and more than 600,000 read the story about him. Pausch has cancer and has been told by doctors he has only three to six months left to live.

Nearly 2,000 people wrote in to ask Pausch questions after watching the segment on "Good Morning America" or reading about him at ABCNEWS.com. Below are a few of the questions viewers asked him, and his answers.

For more information, see www.randypausch.com.

Question: With your passion for life and positive attitude, have you thought about the idea that the math may be wrong? -- Vicky, Oakland Park, Fla.

Randy Pausch: Oh, I certainly am not opposed to a miracle. I would love for my doctors to be saying to me, boy, this -- we can't explain this at all, right. I'd love that and certainly I've considered that, and I never give up hope.But having, having hope for something that you think is really, really unlikely to happen is not inconsistent with confronting the reality and doing the things you need to do with what is presumably a very small amount of time left. And I don't view those as being contradictory at all.

Q: If you could ask a question to your lecture audience and Web site audience 30 years from now, what would it be? -- Christian, Sydney, Australia

R.P.: Have you found a way to bring me back? How are the cyber implants going? Dang it, have you cured cancer? How are my kids doing? Are human beings still squabbling over the same stuff? I mean, I guess given the history 30 years isn't very much delta to expect us to stop. ...Oh, and how many more Super Bowls have the Steelers won?

Q: What would you do with the rest of your time on Earth if, in fact, your final curtain were delayed, let's say, 60 years. -- Gitana, Winter Park, Fla.

R.P.: Wow, first off, what a wonderfully optimistic question, and I thank you for that. What would I do with the rest of my time on Earth? Well, to some degree, I already had what I thought was a pretty good game plan. So to some degree, I would go back and continue executing that, you know, family first and foremost.

I have the best job in the world, which I managed to pull off, I mean being on the faculty at Carnegie-Mellon gives me access to brilliant kids of all flavors, you know, and the thing I chose to make hay out of there was to put the technologist and the artist together ….

I think I would have probably changed in the sense of -- the last year has made me really, really, really appreciate how silly it is to get mad about things.I mean, I was never one for anger, but over the last year, I've just realized, you know, getting mad because somebody cuts you off in traffic, you know, OK, so they cut you off in traffic. You know, you're gonna be mad about that and you know, do 10 times much more stress to yourself for the rest of the day. No. So that kind of stuff would probably change.

Q: If you could have chosen years ago to have known the knowledge that you would get this disease with its predicted outcome, would you have elected to be told? -- Sandy, Farmingham, Mich.

R.P.: As an academic, I'm always inclined to say that, you know, information is better than not having it. Answering this question in real time, I'm not quite sure -- the question that really begs is, if you roll the clock back far enough and I knew I was gonna die, I'd be really questioning, you know, would I have had children if I'd known that they were going to be at their current ages and I was gonna die.

I think that would be a responsible question that any thinking person would stare hard in the mirror.

The thing that's related to this that I will absolutely say is that, you know, would you rather get hit by a bus or get, you know, a couple of months' notice? I don't like the physical pain part of this that comes at the tail end, but there's no doubt in my mind, speaking only for myself, that having a couple of months' notice is infinitely better than getting hit by the proverbial bus.