Stephen Hawking, the most influential astrophysicist of our age, has passed away at the age of 76.
Professor Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement that he had died at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, presumably of complications of a rare, slow-moving form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) from which he suffered through most of his life.
Their public statement reads as follows:
“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 forever.”
They asked for privacy but added their thanks to “everyone who has been by Professor Hawking’s side and supported him – throughout his life”.
Stephen William Hawking was born in January 1942 and passed away today, March 13, 2018. He was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works include a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.
Hawking was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009 and achieved commercial success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his book A Brief History of Time appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
He was also something of a science fiction fan. He played himself on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the first part of a two-parter, The Descent, in which he played a holographic representation of himself. He purportedly asked to be lifted into the Captain’s Chair while he was there that day, and the crew obliged. He was also a fan of the show Red Dwarf, and once appeared on a documentary about the show, praising them on their pseudo-science and congratulating them on their work.
The profound influence of Mr. Hawking has shaken and reshape the fields of astrophysics and cosmology, and he has left an indelible mark.
Goodnight, Mr. Hawking. And, from all of humanity, thank you for your dedication, your genius, and your contributions to the advancement of science and the human condition.