Stephen Hawking, one of the most well-known figures in physics and astrophysics passed away in the night at his home in Cambridge, England.
I already wrote a homage to Stephen Hawking on January 8, 2012, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, which included various information about his life and his studies on the universe. His life has already been told in television and cinema productions because he became famous well beyond the scientific environment.
For this reason, Stephen Hawking’s personal story is well known, especially the disease that caused his complete paralysis. In 1963 doctors gave him a couple of years of life but evidently he had too much to do because he survived for 55 more years.
Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, which became increasingly sophisticated over time, was part of his image. Many years ago it became completely impossible for him to speak and the synthetic voice generated by a computer became one of his easily recognizable features.
Stephen Hawking’s fame has been comparable to that of movie stars and sports for a long time and he really participated in some television productions. It’s no coincidence that among the many messages of condolences that arrived immediately after the announcement of his death there’s also the one from the production of the TV show “The Big Bang Theory”. Hawking participated in some episodes and the tweet that remembers him includes a photo of him with the cast.
Stephen Hawking officially retired years ago but kept on working and promoting science. He invited to look up at the stars and not down to your feet but was worried about the possible negative developments of artificial intelligence and the potential dangers of being discovered by alien civilizations that might be not necessarily friendly.
Stephen Hawking’s studies on black holes for which he became famous remain crucial in the field of physics and astrophysics. I wonder if in the end he was still lucid enough to realize the bitter irony of dying on Einstein’s birth anniversary. With his sense of humor perhaps his last emotion was amusement. He was an atheist so he didn’t have the comfort of a religion but that of the appreciation of life.