‘Quiet people have the loudest minds’ – Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018) R.I.P.

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Stephen Hawking, the world famous and brilliant British theoretical physicist has died at the age of 76 according to a family spokesperson on Tuesday, March 13th, 2018.

Hawking lived with ALS – a debilitating disease that he was diagnosed with in 1963. He was only 21 years old when he learned that he had the neurodegenerative disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  Doctors initially only gave Hawking a few years to live. Hawking was born January 8, 1942.

ALS left Hawking wheelchair-bound and paralyzed. He was able to move only a few fingers on one hand and was completely dependent on others or on technology for virtually everything — bathing, dressing, eating, and speech.

Hawking used a speech synthesizer that allowed him to speak in a computerized voice – a voice that became one of the most recognized voices on planet earth.

“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it (ALS) prevents me from doing, which are not that many,” he wrote on his website.

“The human race is so puny compared to the universe that being disabled is not of much cosmic significance.” http://www.hawking.org.uk/

Hawking  attended Cambridge University attaining a PhD and went on to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. From 1979 to 2009 he held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Lucasian Professor is a prestigious title that also boasts Paul Dirac and Charles Babbage amongst its previous holders.

Stephen Hawking propelled to cult status guest starring as himself, on television shows, ‘The Big Bang Theory’, ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, ‘The Simpsons’, Futurama and more.

Hawking’s life was captured on the big screen in James Marsh’s 2014 film ‘The Theory of Everything,’ with star Eddie Redmayne winning a best actor Oscar.

Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist, author, and science communicator) stated in a late night Tweet (March 13): ‘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.’

From the official NASA twitter account (March 14): ‘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 @SpaceStation in 2014.’

Stephen Hawking with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Throughout his life, Hawking continued to work and research. He was the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics as well as the Founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge.

Hawking defied the odds and went on to publish wildly popular books probing the mysteries of the universe.

He published several books for the general reader including, ‘A Brief History of Time’, ‘The Grand Design’, ‘A Briefer History of Time’, and numerous essay collections, including, ‘Black Holes’, ‘Baby Universe’ and ‘The Universe in a Nutshell’.

Professor Hawking held over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1982. He was a fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US National Academy of Science. Stephen Hawking was regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.

For over thirty years he led the General Relativity group in DAMTP and he was Principal Investigator of the COSMOS National Cosmology Supercomputer since 1997.