In the early hours of Wednesday, 14 March 2018, the world lost one of its most important visionaries and explorers, Professor Stephen Hawking. The news of his passing has resulted in ripples of sadness resonating around the globe.
Hawking was a theoretical physicist and cosmologist with a thirst for knowledge that was unquenchable by any degree. He was once quoted saying: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge,” which speaks to the man’s humility and intelligence.
In 1988, Hawking became a household name after his book titled A Brief History of Time was published; appearing on the British Sunday Times bestseller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
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His life was not one without challenges though; at the young age of 21 he was diagnosed with ALS and given two years to live. Hawking managed to outlive his prognosis by half a century, until this morning when he passed away at the age of 76. Celebrities and fans saddened by his passing have voiced their condolences online, and the tributes have been flowing in.
"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"
Prime Minister of India tweeted
"Professor Stephen Hawking was an outstanding scientist and academic. His grit and tenacity inspired people all over the world. His demise is anguishing. Professor Hawking’s pioneering work made our world a better place. May his soul rest in peace."
Theresa May Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
"Professor Stephen Hawking was a brilliant and extraordinary mind - one of the great scientists of his generation. His courage, humour and determination to get the most from life was an inspiration. His legacy will not be forgotten."
"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."
"We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man i have ever had the pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family"
His was not a life that was purely spent on one subject; although the universe was his Everest, he has lived a life that many would only dream of, despite the challenges he faced. In 1968 he joined in the protests against the Vietnam war, and he was also a vocal supporter of the academic boycott of Israel. Hawking continually campaigned for nuclear disarmament, but he also had a humorous side; appearing on a variety of television shows and documentaries, such as the Simpsons, Futurama, and The Big Bang Theory -to name a few. He has also been featured in his synthetic voice in a Pink Floyd song entitled Keep Talking.
In 2014, a film detailing Hawking’s life and struggles titled The Theory of Everything was nominated for an Academy award, winning Eddie Redmayne an Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking. His temperament could best be summarized by one of his quotes: “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”