The world’s most beloved physicist and the most famous cosmologist of our time has passed away at the age of 76. As remarkable as he was, in an almost unbelievable coincidence his life was also bookended by genius: he was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s death and passed away on the 139th anniversary of Einstein’s birth. Professor Hawking, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at 21, never let his disability affect his curiosity and desire to learn, dedicating his life to study the universe and its origins.
“It is with great sadness we announce the death of Professor Stephen Hawking at the age of 76,” a statement from his family reads.
“Professor Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of this morning.
“His family have kindly requested that they be given the time and privacy to mourn his passing, but they would like to thank everyone who has been by Professor Hawking’s side – and supported him – throughout his life.”
Professor Hawking passed away due to complications involving his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In 1963 he was given just two years to live but he survived this dire prognosis by 54 years. He was confined to a wheelchair for most of his life and forced to invent his own computer system to generate his famous voice, albeit with a robotic American accent. Hard working and driven by curiosity, he was also notoriously persevering.
“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up,” said Stephen Hawking, on his 70th birthday.
Best known for his work with black holes, Professor Hawking also helped quantify Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity in the emerging field of quantum physics.
He published his book A Brief History of Time in 1988, which became the New York Times best-seller three years running. It was this book that made him the much-loved public figure, celebrated all over the world.
Today we remember the genius of Stephen Hawking, his enormous contribution to science and, on his passing, these poignant words:
“There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either,” Hawking said. “We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.”
His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. 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. pic.twitter.com/nAanMySqkt— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 14, 2018
Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science. His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014 pic.twitter.com/FeR4fd2zZ5— NASA (@NASA) March 14, 2018
Lead image: Jim Campbell/Aero-News Network