Renowned British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.
Stephen William Hawking (January 8, 1942 – March 14, 2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, and Director of Research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific work comprises of a partnership with English mathematical physicist and mathematician, Roger Penrose, on gravitational singularity theorems in the structure of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, known commonly as Hawking radiation. He was the first to begin work on a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was also an ardent supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.
Hawking was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. His book, A Brief History of Time, appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for 237 weeks.
Hawking had an unusual early-onset, slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which he contracted at the age of 21 and later progressively paralyzed him over the years. He was in his first year of research work at Cambridge when he was diagnosed with the motor neurone disease. However, at the time of his death, he was able to communicate using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device.
Stephen Hawking, who aimed at finding an answer to some of the most complex questions of life while working under his prevailing medical conditions passed away at the age of 76. He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge on Wednesday (March 14) morning.
Hawking’s extraordinary mind questioned the limits of human understanding both in the vastness of space and in the sub-molecular world of quantum theory, which he said could forecast what happens at the beginning and end of time. His work ranged from the origins of the universe, extending into the prospect of time travel as well as to black holes.
“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” his family said. “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world.”
Hawking was restricted for most of his life to a wheelchair. As his condition deteriorated, he had to accustom to speaking through a voice synthesizer and communicating by moving his eyebrows. The disease motivated him to work harder, but also led to the failure of his two marriages, which he stated in his 2013 memoir “My Brief History.”
Hawking became internationally known after the publication of his book “A Brief History of Time” in 1988, which is presently known as one of the most complex books ever to attain collective appeal. His popularity became such that he appeared as himself on several television shows and hence became a known figure across the world.
Our assessment is that Stephen Hawking’s contribution to science has been immense and is greatly appreciated by the world at large.