Stephen Hawking: Tributes pour in for 'inspirational' physicist

Stephen Hawking: Tributes pour in for 'inspirational' physicist
From BBC - March 14, 2018

Scientists, politicians and actors have paid tribute to world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who has been called an "inspiration to millions".

The British scientist, famed for his work on black holes, died peacefully at his home in Cambridge aged 76.

Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, one of the world's most eminent scientists, described his life as a "triumph".

Others described him as a "unique individual" whose death "has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake".

Prof Hawking was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease at the age of 22 and was told he had only a few years to live.

He was known for his theories on black holes and relativity and went on to publish several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

The University of Cambridge, where Prof Hawking completed his PhD and went on to become Lucasian Professor of Mathematics - a role once held by Sir Isaac Newton - described him as "an inspiration to millions".

Queues have formed at Gonville and Caius College - where Prof Hawking was a fellow for more than 50 years - to sign a book of condolence.

Buckingham Palace said the Queen will be sending a message of condolence to Prof Hawking's family.

Prof Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement: "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 was not home to the people you love'. We will miss him forever."

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, broadcaster Prof Brian Cox called him "one of the greats" and said physicists in 1,000 years' time "will still be talking about Hawking radiation", his theory about black holes.

British astronaut Tim Peake, who flew in space in 2016, said Prof Hawking "inspired generations to look beyond our own blue planet and expand our understanding of the universe".

And the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, praised Prof Hawking's "colossal mind and wonderful spirit".

Many friends and fans have also hailed his humour, with actor Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed Prof Hawking in 2014 film biopic The Theory of Everything, calling him "the funniest man I have ever met".

Fellow actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who also played the physicist in a 2004 BBC TV film, remembered his "wickedly funny sense of humour".

"He virtually created the publishing genre of popular science. I will miss our margaritas but will raise one to the stars to celebrate your life," he added.

Meanwhile, Lord Rees - who holds the most prestigious post in astronomy in the UK - recalled meeting Prof Hawking at Cambridge University in 1964, describing him as "unsteady on his feet and speaking with great difficulty" following his diagnosis with the degenerative disease.

"Even mere survival would have been a medical marvel, but of course he did not just survive.He became one of the most famous scientists in the world," Lord Rees said

"He was diagnosed with a deadly disease, and his expectations dropped to zero. He himself said that everything that happened since then was a bonus."

"And what a triumph his life has been," Lord Rees added.

Factfile: Stephen Hawking

Hawking's discoveries


Continue reading at BBC »