Remarkable People

Acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking dies at 76

Acclaimed physicist Stephen Ha...
Stephen Hawking at the 2015 BAFTA awards
Stephen Hawking at the 2015 BAFTA awards
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Stephen Hawking at the 2015 BAFTA awards
Stephen Hawking at the 2015 BAFTA awards

Pioneering theoretical physicist and science popularizer Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76. Details have not been released yet, but the BBC reports that his children Lucy, Robert and Tim have released a statement saying, "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."

Born in Oxford on January 8, 1942, Stephen Hawking studied at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Despite the diagnosis in 1963 of a rare early-onset, slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that should have claimed his life in a matter of months, Hawking survived and continued to work, write, and lecture for decades, even after he suffered total paralysis and required a speech synthesizer to communicate.

Hawkings went on to become one of the most acclaimed scientists of his generation with a level of fame rivaled only by Albert Einstein. His early work on the mechanics of black holes led him into the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics, and relativity. He was especially notable for his work on Hawking radiation, the Penrose–Hawking theorems, the Bekenstein–Hawking formula, and Hawking energy.

Aside from his rather esoteric work in physics, Hawking was also an author, most famously of A Brief History of Time (1988), which was described as, "the least read best seller in history." He was also an advocate for the disabled, an outspoken proponent of materialism, and even went into acting with appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, among others.

His PhD thesis was recently released to the public as part of an effort to make scientific more accessible. Fellow physicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson had the following to say on Twitter on Hawking's death.

"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake," he said. "But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018."

Hawking once threw a party for time travelers. He got it ready and had champagne and released invitations after the party was over. He sat there alone meaning either time travel probably isn't real or the people of the future able to do so forwent the opportunity to reach out. Hawking holds (held) the view that aliens probably exist but reaching out to them is probably dangerous and I kind of agree with him on it. An advanced alien civilization might view us essentially the same way we view ants and have no trouble wiping us off the map if we are in their way. If we are 99% similar to primates and care little about them we may be unlikely to be viewed much differently by an advanced alien race. If they capture humans and put us in Zoos I hope Loz's cage has a motorcycle in it.
Rest in peace, Dr. Hawking. It is sad to see one of the great minds pass on, but his impact on our society will persevere.
He may have been a genius but I suspect nearly everything he said was wrong and will never be proven. He did capture our imagination as a man trapped in his own body. In that respect he was bigger than life.