Stephen Hawking, probably one of the greatest cosmologists to ever grace the world, died in the early hours of March 14, 2018. He became famous in the scientific world because of his studies in the fields of general relativity and quantum gravity and for discovering the Hawking radiations (radiations emitted by black holes). However, he became famous to the world for his brilliant ways of explaining complex things in simple language; in the form of his many famous books.
Hawking was diagnosed with a rare form of a motor neuron disease at the age of 21 in 1963; particularly Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He had the same disease that was made famous by the ice bucket challenge.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells (particularly the motor neurons that are responsible for voluntary muscle activity) in the brain and spinal cord. Therefore, activities such as walking, breathing, swallowing, speaking are hampered. It is generally diagnosed in people within the age of 40 to 70. Yet, Hawking was diagnosed in his early 20s. Moreover, while the diagnosed patients live for 3-5 years after diagnosis, Hawking had battled the disease for decades. He died at the age of 76, after fulfilling his duty to bring to light many discoveries spanning stars, cosmos and black holes.
In fact, the disease might have slowed (and later on completely stopped) his movement, however it did not hinder his passion to work. Hawking spent 30 years as a full professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He was also the director of research at the school’s Center for Theoretical Cosmology. In 1979, he became the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge – a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton.
He didn’t stop at this. Hawking also wrote and co-wrote books that brought the complexities of cosmos to be understood by anyone. A Brief History of Time, one of his many books, became a bestseller and sold more than 10 million copies in 20 years. He also co-wrote children books with his daughter Lucy Hawking to encourage scientific reasoning and curiosity in children.
Therefore, when the world was struck by this news about losing one of the greatest minds in the world to death, many were heartbroken. In a statement his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, 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.”
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web said, “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit. Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking.”
Closer to home, Rohan Joshi (one of the founders of AIB) wrote a thoughtful message: ‘I want to believe, against all hope and reason, that there is such a thing as life after death, that these people are roaming the stars getting joyous answers to fundamental questions that kept them awake at night when they were alive.’
Hawking might not be in the world anymore. However, his legacy will live on in his work, his crooked smile, the automated American accent, the witty humour and the glint of passion in his eyes.
May you rest in peace, sir.
About the Author:
Bhavika is a typical and proud Delhite in Chandigarh who is outspoken about her opinions and beliefs. She is a passionate dog lover and can’t, for heaven’s sake, decide if she loves coffee more or tea. As someone who can’t say no to new opportunities, she loves to meet new people and takes on ever new task as a new adventure. She likes to vent out through poetry too.