Some men just want to watch the world learn, and one such man has recently passed on from this world to perhaps one beyond it – a concept he explored thoroughly throughout his life.
Stephen Hawking, a renowned scientist who broke ground on the subjects of black holes, the nature of time, and the boundaries of the universe itself died on March 13 at the age of 76.
Despite struggling with a motor neuron disease, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Hawking made great strides in many high-profile fields of science and helped spearhead further research into the cosmos, general relativity, and even the mysterious field of quantum mechanics.
He first developed his condition at 21, and it confined him to a wheelchair for most of years. The condition even took his ability to speak, but that didn’t stop him. Using a vocal synthesizer and facial movements to communicate, Hawking continued to showcase his unique gifts.
He admitted his condition was difficult and contributed to the end of both his marriages. While feeling the situation was unfair at the time and at points reasoning his life was all but over, Hawking admitted feeling satisfied with his life in the end.
He studied at St. Albans School in Hertfordshire, as well as the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge where he earned a bachelors, masters, and PhD.
Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim, said: “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.”
In 1988, he published “A Brief History of Time,” a complex and in-depth book that surprisingly stayed on the Sunday Times best-sellers list for over 200 weeks. Hawking admitted he was originally worried about the clarity of the work, aiming to sell it at airport bookstalls and screening it to his nurses beforehand to gauge how people would respond.
Hawking’s two main fields of study since the early 70s were Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics. Between the two, he observed the intricacies of both largescale and subatomic scientific phenomena.
Some of his claims also caused controversy. He spoke about two variants of time, one real and one imaginary – the first being the ones humans perceive, and the latter being how the world may actually exist.
He also dubbed computer viruses as humanity’s first act of creationism, viewing them as a life form despite criticism from some biologists.
Hawking was honored multiple times throughout the course of his life, racking up a long list of commendations that included honorary membership into the Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and lifetime membership in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Hawking, a highly intelligent explorer of the universe and the fabric of reality itself was often asked about his religious beliefs. He said: “In a way, if we understand the universe, we are in the position of God.”