Stephen Hawking: In Memoriam

March 27, 2018

It is not often that an individual can soar to the forefront of popular and intellectual culture, but sadly the world lost one such figure in Stephen Hawking when he passed on March 14, 2018 at age 76. Hawking was an inspiration in so many ways, and his life should be celebrated across all the fields he has left an impact on. To begin, Hawking was arguably the best scientist alive, and his attempts to understand the universe have made strides towards humans’ understanding of the world. With his colleague Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein’s theory of relativity, (laws of physics governing large objects like planets) with the vastly different quantum mechanics (seemingly random laws governing small, subatomic particles) in an attempt to predict the origin and conclusion of the universe, which he colloquialized in his 1988 best selling book A Brief  History of Time. Selling over 10 million copies, the short book gave the average man a much deeper understanding of the cosmos and propelled him to national stardom.

He used this fame to his advantage and began making appearances on different television shows and movies throughout the 1990s. Starting with Star Trek: The Next Generation Hawking began to grow a devoted following and continued appearing in shows he enjoyed, always as himself, such as The Simpsons, Futurama, and recently The Big Bang Theory. He has the comedic chops to boot for the roles, helping write clever lines about his intelligence, a fictitious ego he developed for such roles, and even about robotic enhancements placed on his wheelchair.

Hawking suffered from ALS, a rare neurological disease which made him slowly lose muscle control over his body. Diagnosed in 1963, Hawking was given two years to live, but through marvel’s of medicine and technology, he survived with the disease for over 60 years; even without any muscle control, his mind was still untouched. Speaking through a computer processor, with a robotic voice now synonymous with the man himself, Hawking continued to make appearances on talk shows, in lectures, and on TV shows keeping himself active in the global community, continuing to educate the masses on the vast unknown of the cosmos, and having as much fun as possible while doing so. Stephen Hawking was an inspiration to many, and his work in science, his celebrity, and his struggle against disease have cemented his legacy in history and in our hearts. His family reported he died peacefully, and he will be buried in Westminster Abbey near Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, two of the handful of individuals whom can be called intellectual equals to this humble, empowering figure.  

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