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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Goodbye Stephen Hawking: 13 Reasons Why We Should Mourn The Loss Of A Brilliant Mind Today

Scientists perform the incredibly important task of driving humanity forward, with their work pushing the boundaries of science, math, and in essence, the unknown. And yet, you’d probably be hard-pressed to name as many scientists as you can Hollywood actors for instance.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking was the exception to this, one of the few scientists to achieve rock star status in society. There isn’t anyone in the world that doesn’t know his name, and at least something about him. Heck, he’s even made it into the Simpsons. But Hawking’s achievements were numerous, right up until his death on Wednesday, at age 76.

1. Hawking gained a scholarship to Oxford, attaining a nearly perfect score on the Physics test in the process. He eventually obtained his PhD degree in applied mathematics and theoretical physics, specialising in general relativity and cosmology from Cambridge.

2. Diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) at age 21, doctors only gave him a few years to live. Despite becoming wheelchair-bound and paralyzed, Hawking defied the odds to far outlive that declaration, despite his condition. 

“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many,” he wrote on his website. “I have been lucky that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope.”

3. Hawking’s book, “A Brief History of Time”, is considered one of the greatest scientific works of the modern age, and has sold more than 10 million copies to date.

4. With fellow physicist Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory to form the theory of singularities, which proved their existence and theorized that’s how the universe probably began. 

5. With James Bardeen and Brandon Carter, Hawking discovered the four laws of black hole mechanics.

Stephen Hawking

6. In 1974, Hawking proved that black holes emit radiation, which may continue till they exhaust their energy and evaporate.

7. Along with James Hartle, he published a model that states time didn’t exist before the Big Bang and hence the concept of the beginning of the universe is meaningless. It’s still one of the most prominent theories on the initial state of the universe.

8. With Thomas Hertog in 2006, he proposed a theory of “top-down cosmology”, which says the universe didn’t have one unique initial state but was a superposition of many possible conditions. That meant, therefore, we can’t study the beginning of the universe By settling on a starting point, we can only infer from the final stage i.e. today.

9. In 1974, Hawking became one of the youngest persons to be elected to the Royal Society of London. In 1982 he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by the Queen, and later the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.

10. Hawking received multiple awards through his lifetime, for his contributions to science, yet has somehow never been awarded the Nobel Prize.

11. In 2007, Hawking and his daughter Lucy collaborated to write ‘George’s Secret Key to the Universe’, a children’s fiction book explaining heavy scientific ideas to kids.

Stephen Hawking

12. In 2007, despite his paralysis, Hawking floated into simulated zero gravity at age 65. He experienced weightlessness and even did backflips, all to experience what humanity would have to get used to if it wanted to survive.

13. Hawking has achieved worldwide renown, becoming a hero to math and science geeks for his appearances as himself in shows like “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “The Simpsons.”

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