Stephen Hawking, the brilliant British theoretical physicist, whose life was dramatized in the 2014 movie, The Theory of Everything, has died.
Hawking leaves behind three children and three grandchildren who said in a statement,
“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 humor 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.“
Considered to be the world’s greatest living scientist, Hawking was a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and author of the landmark A Brief History of Time which sold more than 10 million copies.
Despite all he had accomplished, Hawking once said if he had the chance to meet Isaace Newton or Marilyn Monroe, he would opt for Monroe.Hawking was a hero to math and science geeks as well as a pop culture icon. He guest-starred as himself on Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons.
He had at least 12 honorary degrees and was awarded the Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The CBE is one rank below knighthood.
Hawking merged Einstein‘s theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes.
He suffered from ALS, a neurodegenerative disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which is usually fatal within a few years. Diagnosed in 1963 at age 21, doctors initially gave him only a few years to live.
The disease left Hawking paralyzed and able to move only a few fingers on one hand. He was totally dependent on others or on technology for virtually everything –bathing, dressing, eating, even speech. Hawking used a speech synthesizer that allowed him to speak.
“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many. I have been lucky that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope.”“
In an interview with CNN in 2008, Hawking said,
“I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next 100 years, let alone next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.“
Hawking seriously wanted to go into space himself and said,
“My ultimate ambition is to fly into space. I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic and I said yes immediately.“
Hawking was born in Oxford, England, on an auspicious date: January 8, 1942 –the 300th anniversary of the death of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei.
Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, wrote on Twitter,
“A star just went out in the cosmos. We have lost an amazing human being.“
Stephen Hawking was 76.
(Photo, YouTube; via CNN)