Finally, today, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University Randy Pausch knew he was dying. He'd been diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer two years ago.

Professor RANDY PAUSCH (Computer Scientist, Carnegie Mellon University): If you look at my CAT scans there are approximately 10 tumors in my liver, and the doctors told me three to six months of good health left. That was a month ago, so you can do the math.


That's him at a lecture he gave at Carnegie Mellon last September. It was part of his series where speakers were invited to share their thoughts as if it were the final speech they'd ever give. Randy Pausch knew that speech might actually be his last, and yet, he was still funny, smart, upbeat.

Prof. PAUSCH: If I don't seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHADWICK: Randy Pausch co-founded Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology. His lecture became a book called "The Last Lecture." It's been at the top of the non-fiction bestseller list for months, but he became a phenomenon on the web. Because a video of his speech spread virally, it's been since by millions. The title of his talk was "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." These were some of Randy's.

Prof. PAUSCH: 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 - being Captain Kirk...

COHEN: He never did become Captain Kirk. But in the last months of his life he was an extra in the upcoming "Star Trek" movie. He had one line of dialogue, and he donated his pay from the film to charity. Randy Pausch died at his home in Virginia this morning. He was 47. He was survived by a wife, three kids and a speech that will live forever.

CHADWICK: And it is a video really, really worth seeing. Day to Day is a production of NPR News with contributions from, I'm Alex Chadwick.

COHEN: And I'm Alex Cohen.

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