Recognized throughout the world as the world’s greatest living scientist, Stephen Hawking brought science and fact into popular culture, opening minds and inspiring others. The renowned physicist and author of ‘A Brief History of Time’ has brought modern cosmology into the lives of millions throughout the world, opening the eyes and minds of those who may otherwise have lived their lives ‘in the dark.’
In 1963, at the age of 21, Hawking was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative disease that is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. For many, this is fatal and the doctors, in the beginning, gave the young Hawking only a few years to live. Paralyzed and wheelchair-bound, Hawking became dependant upon others or on technology for every aspect of his life including his speech, using a speech synthesizer that allowed him to speak in a computerized voice.
“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that man,” wrote Hawking on his website. “I have been lucky that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope.”
Despite his challenges, Hawking continued to pursue his dream, traveling the world to give lectures, writing scientific papers and staying closely tied into the Scientific community. His incredible knowledge and intelligence coupled with the inspirational story of a man who refused to back down captivated hearts and minds, even those who otherwise may not have discovered their love of science.
His book ‘A Brief History of Time’ made its way into the Guinness Book of Records after it held onto its spot on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an incredible 237 weeks. To date, it has sold approximately 10 million copies and has been translated into a total of 40 different languages.
Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, March 14, at the age of 76. His children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim released a statement:
“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 humor 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 forever.”
This morning, in the wake of this saddening news, Hawking is being remembered around the world for the legacy that he has left behind. Social media is blowing up with celebrities, scientists, politicians and those who were inspired by his life and his work sharing their greatest memories and thoughts of his passing.
Cosmologist and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss wrote: “A star just went out in the cosmos. We have lost an amazing human being.”
A star just went out in the cosmos. We have lost an amazing human being. Stephen Hawking fought and tamed the cosmos bravely for 76 years and taught us all something importantabout what it truly means to celebrate about being human. I will miss him.
— Lawrence M. Krauss (@LKrauss1) March 14, 2018
Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted: “His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure.”
His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018. pic.twitter.com/nAanMySqkt
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 14, 2018
In the words of the University of Cambridge, Hawking was “an inspiration to millions” and his incredible work will leave “an indelible legacy.”