Shaped humanity’s understanding of space and time
Star cosmologist and icon Stephen Hawking passed away today at his home in Cambridge at the age of 76. Hawking made radical discoveries, which transformed the way scientists and mankind looked at space, black holes and the future.
Hawking’s children— Lucy, Robert and Tim— released a statement saying: “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. His courage and persistence with 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 love.’ We will miss him for ever.”
Hawking passed away on the same day as Albert Einstein’s birthday. Coincidentally, the renowned physicist had also died at the age of 76.
Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21, Hawking had a life expectancy of three years. But he defied all odds and went on live for more than half a century. He once said: “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
In 1988, Hawking published “A Brief History of Time” targeting non-scientists to help explain fundamental questions such as how the universe started and whether it will end. The book sold at least 10m copies since its initial publication, spent a record 233 weeks on the Sunday Times best-sellers list and was translated into more than 40 languages.
Hawking had a fun side to him as well. He has played himself on The Simpsons and was depicted on Family Guy and South Park.
In recent years, Hawking had been expressing concern about the future of humanity on the Earth and the dangers of intelligent computers. In 2016, Hawking said that humanity had only 1,000 years left – thanks to AI, climate change, and other disasters. Last year, he reduced that number to 100 years only.
Hawking was also knwon for his sharp wit and humor. So bidding him adiue with one of my favourite quote of his: “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”