76-year-old Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14, 2018, at his home in England. His birth, January 8, 1942, coincided with the 300th anniversary the death of Galileo. Equally interesting, his death occurred on the annual observance of π (Pi) and Albert Einstein’s birthday.
He was an acclaimed director of theoretical physicist and applied mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Hawking was also the founder of Centre for Theoretical Cosmology. Officials from the university confirmed his passing.
As a frequent visiting performer on “The Big Bang Theory,” he often spoofed himself and was equally Sheldon Cooper’s friend and nemesis. The characters on the program admired Hawking for his achievements in the field of physics, his insights on black holes, relativity, and his unique form of communication.
After becoming totally disabled with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he used a wheelchair, which he operated using his cheek. The computer enabled Hawking to speak. Even though he is British, his device made him sound like a Yankee. He often relayed his disappointment with this using the humor so many of his fans enjoyed.
When the diagnosis of ALS changed his life, he was studying cosmology at the University of Cambridge and only 21 years old. At the time, doctors gave him only two and a half years to live. As became typical in his life, Hawking surpassed those expectations.
His disease helped him become the man the world knew, according to Biography.com. He explained, “Before my condition was diagnosed, I had been very bored with life.” However, after his diagnosis, his dedicated himself to study and research, ultimately earning his Ph.D.
Hawking authored or co-wrote numerous books, “The Universe in a Nutshell,” 2001; “A Briefer History of Time,” 2005; and “Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays,” in 1993, to name a few. He and his daughter, Lucy, published five children’s novels, which are science-themed.
His 1988 science book “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” brought him fame. Estimates indicate over 10 million copies in 40 languages of the book were sold since its publishing.
Like many scientists, Hawking proclaimed he was an atheist. In his book “The Grand Design,” 2010, “he set out to challenge Sir Issac Newton’s belief that the universe had to have been designed by God, simply because it could not have been born from chaos,” according to Biography.com.
In addition to appearances on “The Big Bang Theory,” Hawking hosted “Genius” in 2016, and he was interviewed on “Star Talk” Neil deGrasse Tyson’s program in 2018. He was also the featured character in a quasi-life story entitled, “The Theory of Everything,” released in November 2014.
Hawking left a huge footprint in the field of science. His memory will likely be celebrated hundreds of years from now. He was scheduled to be a space tourist in a trip to the edge of space, perhaps someone will take his place and honor his memory with every mile traveled.
By Cathy Milne
NBC News: British physicist Stephen Hawking, among world’s greatest minds of science, dies at 76
NBC News: ‘I’m an Atheist’: Stephen Hawking on God and Space Travel
Biography.com: Stephen Hawking
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