On January 8, 1942, the 300th anniversary of the death of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei, Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England. This man, who was diagnosed with debilitating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was but twenty-one years old, has been considered the greatest scientist of his day.
Cosmologist, physicist, astronomer, mathematician, and author of many books, including A Brief History of Time, which has sold more than 10 million copies, are just a few of Hawking’s accomplishments. With fellow physicist Roger Penrose, he merged Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes. Hawking also discovered that black holes are not completely black but emit radiation, aptly named Hawking radiation, and will likely eventually evaporate and disappear.
Hawking believed the future of mankind would be in space. He had doubts about the ability of the human race to avoid disaster and survive on this planet; and the prospect and hope for a long-term future was dependent on being able to live in space.
Today, Stephen Hawking, the brilliant British theoretical physicist who became a hero to math and science geeks, who allowed himself to become a pop culture figure, guest-starring on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “The Simpsons”, passed away at the age of seventy-six.
This man, who once was asked, given the choice between meeting Sir Isaac Newton or Marilyn Monroe, chose Marilyn, has left a place, a void that is felt around the world. But, he did leave these words, and they fill each one as they may:
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet,” he said. “Try to make sense of what you see and about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”