The Legacy of Stephen Hawking

As of March 14, 2018, the universe lost a brilliant mind. Early in the morning, the famed physicist Stephen William Hawking died at the age of 76.

Dr. Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942 in Oxford, England; this date was exactly 300 years from the day Galileo died, ironically enough. Upon enrolling at University College, he decided to study physics since mathematics, his first choice of study, was not available. From there, history was made. Through his research, Dr. Hawking explored the laws that govern the universe, studied black holes and relativity, and even had the theoretical radiation emitted by exploding black holes named after him. He has been the author of several publications, including A Brief History of Time, has been awarded thirteen honorary degrees, and has been the recipient of many awards. The most amazing part of all? He accomplished these feats while battling a terminal disease. At the age of 21, Dr. Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and given only a few years to live. Instead, he persevered for another 55 years, maintaining a life with his family and permanently changing humanity’s understanding of the universe in the process.

As much as Dr. Hawking deserves to be remembered for his accomplishments, his words, too, deserve recognition. He worked to inspire all, especially those like himself that are faced with seemingly insurmountable barriers:

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”*

“We are all different. There is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spirit.”

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn't prevent you doing well, and don't regret the things it interferes with. Don't be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”

He had an incredible wit and humor, which he credits as being essential to his almost miraculous lifespan:

“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.”

“I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth.”

“My ideal role would be a baddie in a James Bond film. I think the wheelchair and the computer voice would fit the part.”

“It's a pity that nobody has found an exploding black hole. If they had, I would have won a Nobel prize.”

His most important work, however, is a change in our perception of science and the inspiration he has provided to the scientists yet to come:

“My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

“Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion.”

“I hope I have helped to raise the profile of science and to show that physics is not a mystery but can be understood by ordinary people.”

“As scientists, we step on the shoulders of science, building on the work that has come before us - aiming to inspire a new generation of young scientists to continue once we are gone.”

Stephen Hawking will be remembered among the likes of Albert Einstein as a symbol of scientific curiosity and discovery, a man that forever shaped humanity’s understanding of the universe. He will live on through his research, and the uncovering of new theories by future scientists following his legacy. His love of exploration must now be passed down to us, his unending questions and determined resilience. He may no longer be with us, but his inspiration will carry on for many generations to come.

*Quotes from Stephen Hawking were found at BrainyQuote

Pictures: Cover, 1, 2, 3