Science, Now + Beyond

In Memory of Stephen Hawking, a true legend in more ways than one.

Not only did he defy an Everest of odds, he was able to change the world with his brilliant mind.

The Earth, much like the vast expanse of the universe, is full of stars. Some of them big and well-known, who have been discovered for their talents and contributions. Others who have yet to shine as brightly, who might just do so in due time. However, one of the biggest, brightest stars on this planet has now joined the ones in the sky. Stephen Hawking, the visionary physicist who many considered to be one of the greatest modern scientists, died early Wednesday morning at the age of 76.

This star is known for not just one, but the numerous ways he shone brightly. Let us look back at some of all that he did:

Hawking is famed for his extensive work on black holes and the theory of relativity. At the age of 20, he enrolled in Cambridge University to study for his PhD. It was there that Hawking discovered his newfound love and curiosity for Black Holes.

He delved head first into research and reached the conclusion that would change everything the world knew about Black Holes. He discovered that black holes radiate energy while gradually loosing mass in 1974, a phenomenon rightfully-named Hawking radiation. One of his theories that suggests that the universe evolves according to distinct laws earned him high acclaim.

 

Source: Reuters
Caption: Stephen Hawking sitting at the front of a full classroom during his lecture on the creation of the Universe at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva September 9, 2009. Source: Reuters

Moreover, Hawking published his theories in a book titled “A Brief History of Time” in 1988, which became a bestseller and sold over 10 million copies in 20 years.

But Hawking wasn’t just super-smart, he had a sense of humor too. Along with his never-ending curiosity on space and black holes, Hawking was always infatuated with the possibility of time traveling. His desire to find out if it was possible was so strong that he even threw a cocktail party specifically for time travelers. He only sent out the invitations after the party was over, and noted that if time traveling was possible, then guests would have attended his party.

Hawking was also very vocal about his support for the Palestinian cause and the boycott of Israel. He has always been adamant about supporting Palestinian’s right to education, and even delivered a lecture at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, and visited Birzeit University in the illegally occupied West Bank in 2006.

In 2013, Hawking cancelled his appearance at a conference in Jerusalem on the future of Israel. After receiving numerous letters of appeal from Palestinian academics on Israel’s violations of Palestinian’s rights, one of which includes academic freedom, he released a statement of support. 

And when the first first-ever Palestinian Advanced Physics School opened in Palestine, Hawking released a statement saying, “Physics does not respect borders, and international collaborations are the engines of rapid scientific progress. I am delighted to see that physics education and research in Palestine continues to grow and strengthen its international connections.” 

Perhaps what is most extraordinary about Hawking was his ability to continue his work even in the face of illness. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease and given only two years to live. He lived on for 55 more; not only did he defy an Everest of odds, he was able to change the world with his brilliant mind.

Professor Stephen William Hawking outside the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, in the University of Cambridge.
Professor Stephen William Hawking outside the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, in the University of Cambridge. Source: Jason Bye.

Besides standing up for Palestine, Hawking was a strong believer on the disastrous effects of climate change. He continuously used his platform to advocate the cause, and warned that humans are causing irreversible damages on the planet that can only be prevented when we stop climate change. 

After a statement was released announcing his death, the world took to Twitter to commemorate Hawking.

With this, I leave you with the words of a true legend that we may use to live life by.

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”