It is a sad day for the entire scientific community as the highly esteemed Stephen Hawking, the genius in a wheelchair, dies at 76.
Stephen Hawking, famously known as the genius in a wheelchair, has always been regarded as one of the greatest minds in the world of cosmology.
At the young age of 22, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and was given two years to live by his doctors.
Hawking managed to prove them wrong. However, he didn’t wholly survive his ordeal. ALS gradually paralyzed him, and by the late 1960s, his physical abilities severely declined and left him wheelchair-bound.
During the late 1970s, his speech deteriorated and significantly affected his communication with other people.
Despite his physical limitations, Hawking refused to succumb to his illness. He continued his studies and traveled the world. He authored over 200 papers and books, many of which became popular.
“The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognized. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.”
Unfortunately, the British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, writer, and professor has finally reached the end of his line. Early Wednesday morning, March 14th, he was reported to have died peacefully at his residence in Cambridge at the age of 76.
Remembering Stephen Hawking, the Genius in a Wheelchair
Stephen Hawking was not regarded as the genius in a wheelchair for nothing. For nearly five decades, he dedicated his life to studying the universe and the many mysteries it holds. Here are some of the most significant discoveries of Hawking that reshaped science as we know.
Second Law of Black Hole Dynamics
Hawking postulated the second law of black hole thermodynamics. According to him, the full surface area of a black hole could never get smaller. He also proposed the no-hair theorem that says all black holes could be characterized by three classical parameters: electric charge, angular momentum, and mass.
According to Einstein’s theory of gravity, there are locations in space-time where an astronomical body’s gravitational field makes it appear infinitely curved. Hawking and his colleague Roger Penrose implemented this theory to the entire cosmos to validate the Big Bang theory, the singularity from which the universe and time were believed to have begun.
Birth of Galaxies
Hawking was also a supporter of cosmological inflation which claims that the universe expanded exponentially right after the Big Bang, before gradually settling down to a slower expansion rate.
He’s also the first cosmologist to explain how the slightest change in condition during the time of expansion has given birth to the galaxies in the universe.
Hawking himself coined the term Hawking’s radiation which refers to the black holes that emit radiation. Using quantum theory, he explained that these black holes continue to live until all their energy is depleted, vanishing eventually.
Hawking’s Greatest Quotes
Aside from his discoveries, Hawking’s combined intellect and sense of humor made him one of the most quoted celebrities of his and our time. Here’s a short collection if his well-known words of wisdom.
- “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. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
- “For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”
- “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
- “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”
- “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”
- “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”
- “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
Thank you, Stephen Hawking
The passing of Stephen Hawking will definitely leave a huge gap in the world of science and in the hearts of the people who have been inspired by his intelligence and curiosity. In his lifetime, he has become an icon of both pop culture and academics.
He was a genius in a wheelchair who refused to let his illness cripple his mind and soul.
As a man who suffered from a debilitating and painful condition for most of his life, he showed us all exactly what it means to strive and make the most of the talents and abilities we have been given.
His wit and sense of optimism were some of his most defining characteristics, and it was rare to see his positive mentality falter.
We are still a long shot from understanding who and what we are in the vastness of this universe. But, we have this great man to thank for paving some of the roads that will enable us to continue the journey towards more discoveries.
Thank you, Stephen Hawking! (1942-2018)