Stephen William Hawking was born on 8th January 1942 in Oxford, England. He earned a place at the Oxford University to read natural science in 1959 before studying for his PhD at Cambridge. He was diagnosed with a rare motor neurone disease in 1963 and was given only 2 years to live. He defied the doctors and continued to live and died just this morning at the age of 76.
The professor was known for his work with black holes and relativity. He outlined the theory that black holes emit radiation in 1974 and became the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the Cambridge. This post was also held by Sir Isaac Newton once upon a time.
He also published several popular science books including A Brief History of Time in 1988, which has sold more than 10 million copies. He was offered a knighthood in the late 1990s but he revealed later that he had turned it down over issues with the government’s funding for science.
Having lived in a wheelchair and only able to speak through a voice synthesizer, he finally drifted off peacefully in the early hours of today. 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.”
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 love.’ We will miss him forever.”
A book of condolence is due to be opened at Conville and Caius College in Cambridge, where Prof Hawking was a fellow. He was the first to present the theory of cosmology as a union of relativity and quantum mechanics. He also found that black holes leak radiation and fade away. This later became knows as Hawking Radiation.
He worked with the mathematician, Sir Roger Penrose, to demonstrate that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity implies that space and time began with the Big Bang and will end in black holes.
The professor is not only famous in the academic world but has appeared in several TV shows including The Simpsons, Red Dwarf and The Big Bang Theory. Eddie Redmayne portrayed professor Stephen Hawking in an award-winning performance in The Theory of Everything.
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, was one of the first people to pay tribute to Prof Hawking. “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit. Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking.”
The vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge – where Prof Hawking had studied and worked – Professor Stephen Toope, said he was a “unique individual” who would be remembered with “warmth and affection”. He added: “His exceptional contributions to scientific knowledge and the popularisation of science and mathematics have left an indelible legacy. His character was an inspiration to millions.”
Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said Prof Hawking was “an inspiration to us all, whatever our station in life, to reach for the stars”. He tweeted: “RIP Sir. You epitomised true courage over adversity as you explained the wonders of the universe to the world. Your achievements symbolise the pwr (sic) of the human mind.”
Local government minister Sajid Javid said: “One of most inspirational people throughout my life. A brief history on earth, an eternity in the stars.”
Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak said: “Stephen Hawking’s integrity and scientific dedication placed him above pure brilliance,”
Satya Nadella, Microsoft chief executive, said: “We lost a great one today. Stephen Hawking will be remembered for his incredible contributions to science – making complex theories and concepts more accessible to the masses. He’ll also be remembered for his spirit and unbounded pursuit to gain a complete understanding of the universe, despite the obstacles he faced.”
In his 2013 memoir, he described how he felt when first diagnosed with motor neurone disease. “I felt it was very unfair – why should this happen to me. At the time, I thought my life was over and that I would never realise the potential I felt I had. But now, 50 years later, I can be quietly satisfied with my life.”
Speaking to the BBC in 2002, his mother, Isobelle, described him as a “very normal young man”. She said: “He liked parties. He liked pretty girls – only pretty ones. He liked adventure and he did, to some extent, like work.”
It is a tragedy and we will all miss the presence of professor Stephen Hawking and there is nobody who can replace him.