Stephen Hawking, the world renowned theoretical physicist, died peacefully in his Cambridge home on March 14, 2018. Hawking was 76 and best known for his work regarding black holes and relativity.
Despite the fact that the majority of people couldn’t even understand his field of study, Hawking had a way about him that made both himself – and science – popular. Aside from his brilliant and groundbreaking work, he also wrote a number of popular science books including the most well known “A Brief History of Time,” which was an international bestseller.
Many considered Hawking to be the best theoretical physicist of his time. He was thought to be the biggest celebrity in science since Albert Einstein.
“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” said a statement from his children, Tim, Robert and Lucy. “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.”
Rising Above ALS
At the age of 21, Hawking was attacked by ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Doctors told him he likely wouldn’t live beyond another two years. That said, he managed to live for more than half a century after that point. In 1985, a severe case of pneumonia required him to breathe through a tube. It was at that time that he began requiring an electronic voice synthesizer – the voice by which the majority of the world recognizes him.
Despite his considerable medical struggles, Hawking continued to pursue his scientific work, married twice and appeared on several television shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Simpsons,” and The Big Bang Theory, among others.
A Theory of Everything
Among Hawking’s top pursuits was a unified theory that would resolve Einstein’s theory of relativity’s contradictions with quantum mechanics theory. He said that to discover a “theory of everything” would make it possible for humankind to “know the mind of God.” In his book, A Brief History of Time, he said “A complete, consistent unified theory is only the first step: our goal is a complete understanding of the events around us, and of our own existence.”
Several years after the publication, he suggested that he had doubts about the existence of such a theory.
He Could Do It
Still, many of his colleagues said his contributions to science only started with his thoughts and theories. Another of his great achievements for the field was that his celebrity built fresh new enthusiasm for theoretical physics and for science as a whole.
Furthermore, his astounding achievements in longevity gave hope to individuals with even the most severe disabilities. He showed that it was possible to continue living a full and fulfilling life even when he finally lost the movement he had in a few of his fingers and was able only to control some of the muscles in his face.
“I accept that there are some things I can’t do,” he said to The Associated Press in 1997. “But they are mostly things I don’t particularly want to do anyway.” Later, he added – while wearing his well-known wide grin – that “I seem to manage to do anything that I really want.”