Stephen Hawking, the renown cosmologist and the subject of the Oscar-nominated film ‘The Theory of Everything,’ has passed away at age 76.
His children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim, released a statement to the media confirming his passing:
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said: ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”
There are not too many scientists in a person’s lifetime that have managed to cross the line from academic scholar to cultural icon. Stephen Hawking was one of those scientists. Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease, at the age of 21, Hawking didn’t let his affliction hold him back. Best known for his work with black holes, Hawking changed the world of physics theorizing that black holes actually emit radiation (now called Hawking radiation) and changing how physicists not only see the cosmos but also gravity.
His long time collaborator Kip Thorne would say that his physical challenges contributed to his mental expertise as it allowed him to “developed new ways of thinking, new ways of wrapping his brain around things that enabled him to out-think anybody else in the field.” And he did more than just out-think his fellow scientists. He was the epitome of what an unbounded mind can achieve.
But it was his sense of humor that seemed to shine through and attract both the academic and general public to him. Hawking became the “cool” teacher whose mind and wit captivated you. So much so that he became a pop phenomenon appearing on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ (where he played poker with Einstein and Newton), ‘The Simpsons’ (“Your theory of a donut-shaped universe is intriguing, Homer. I may have to steal it.”), and ‘Futurama.’ But Hawking was at his best when paired with Sheldon Cooper on the ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ trolling his fellow theoretical physicist with every appearance.
It is with a heavy heart that we now say goodbye to this great scientist. The stars shine a little dimmer as we join the world in mourning an amazing human being. RIP Stephen Hawking.