Global Watch

Stephen Hawking, Science’s Brightest Star, Passes Away

PRESIDENT Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have joined the scientist community in mourning passing away of Stephen Hawking, internationally noted physicist. He breathed his last peacefully at the age of 76 at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday.

The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time defying his incurable health problems. At the age of 22, Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. The illness left him in a wheelchair and largely unable to speak except through a voice through a voice synthesiser. BBC News reports his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim,in a statement  said: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. They praised his “courage and persistence” and said his “brilliance and humour” inspired people across the world.

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you loves.’ We will miss him forever.”A book of condolence has been opened at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge where Prof Hawking was a fellow. Through his work with mathematician Sir Roger Penrose, he demonstrated that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. The scientist gained popularity outside the academic world and appeared in several TV shows including The Simpsons, Red Dwarf and The Big Bang Theory. He was portrayed in both TV and film recently by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything which charted his rise to fame and relationship with his first wife, Jane. The actor paid tribute to him, saying: “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Prof Hawking in a BBC drama, said he was “a true inspiration for me and for millions around the world”.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield lamented on Twitter that “Genius is so fine and rare”, while United Kingdom’s Premier Theresa May noted Hawking’s “courage, humour and determination to get the most from life was an inspiration.” The US rock band Foo Fighters was more succinct, calling Hawking a “fucking legend.”

The Guardian recalls his children saying “He once said: ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you loves.’ We will miss him forever.”For fellow scientists and loved ones, it was Hawking’s intuition and wicked sense of humour that marked him out as much as the fierce intellect that, coupled with his illness, came to symbolise the unbounded possibilities of the human mind.

Hawking was driven to Wagner, but not the bottle, when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21. Doctors expected him to live for only two more years. But Hawking had a form of the disease that progressed more slowly than usual. He survived for more than half a century.(image courtesy- The Independent)

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