BBC News is reporting that legendary theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and all-round science genius Stephen Hawking died early this morning at his home in Cambridge at the age of 76. At least in this universe, that’s what happened. Right, Stephen?
Stephen’s family confirmed the news to the BBC this morning. His children Robert, Lucy, and Timothy released a statement regarding their father’s death, saying:
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. 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 humour inspired people across the world. He once said: ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him for ever.”
Born in Oxford, UK in 1942, Stephen had been living with ALS since a diagnosis at 21. Doctors had given him an estimated two to three years to live, but Stephen showed ALS who was boss by living another 55 years and accomplishing enough to fill six lifetimes. Stephen created several black hole laws, like one that states black holes leak energy, and proposed theories on time travel, the universe, and the Big Bang. In 1988 he published the insanely popular cosmology book A Brief History of Time, which has sold over 10 million copies. He went on to write seven books. Later in his life, he appeared as himself on shows like The Simpsons, Star Trek: TNG, and The Big Bang Theory. And he did all this while being confined to a wheelchair and speaking through a computer generated voice operated by a muscle in his cheek. Suddenly my 7th grade science fair project on Froot Loops doesn’t seem so impressive.
Stephen leaves behind his three children. He was married twice. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. He claims he was offered a knighthood in the 90s, but he reportedly turned it down due to issues he had with the UK government’s funding of science.
Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, responded to the news of Stephen Hawking’s death by saying: “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.” That part about Stephen Hawking being funny wasn’t a lie. Stephen reportedly liked to “accidentally” run over people’s toes with his wheelchair. My personal favorite example of Stephen being hilarious comes courtesy of a 2014 episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The whole thing is great, but the best part happens at the 5:36 mark, when Stephen Hawking starts to roast John Oliver. Sorry John, but Stephen has spoken – there’s just no universe in which you end up with Charlize Theron.
Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking.