A Tribute to Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking, world renowned cosmologist, theoretical physicist, and hero to many passed away at the age of 76 years old on March 14, 2018. Hawking’s autobiography, My Brief History, is available at most bookstores and from many online retailers. The following quotes are taken from Professor Hawking’s speech at his 75th birthday celebrations in 2017.
The speech began with, “It has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research on theoretical physics. Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last fifty years, and I am happy if I have made a small contribution.” Hawking’s understatement highlights his humility. When earning his doctorate at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. in 1966, his thesis was titled “Properties of Expanding Universes.” In it, Hawking discussed the implications of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, that the universe started with a Big Bang and will end with one. Over the course of his career, Hawking published many theories and books. His contributions to many communities and the field of physics were so great, that he was even offered honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth of England, but he declined the honor. Additionally, he was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2009. When asked why Hawking is significant to her, senior Peyton Manfre said, “He stood as a symbol for brilliance, no matter what he went through.” She elaborated, “I think it’s amazing that someone can go through almost every obstacle imaginable and still exceed every expectation of them.”
“The fact that we humans, who are ourselves meer collections of fundamental particles of nature, have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph.” At the young age of 21 years old, Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (also known as A.L.S. and Lou Gehrig’s disease) and given two more years to live. He soon married his college lover, Jane Wilde and had three children while continuing to pursue cosmology. According to NASA, cosmology is the study of the “origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the entire Universe.” By the end of the 1960’s, he had no other option but to use a wheelchair, eventually losing the ability to speak due to the deterioration of his muscles. Dr. Young, science teacher at Riverbend, stated, “His determination to continue making scientific contributions in spite of his lifelong, crippling disease” stands out to her the most. Eventually, he became the Director of Research at the Centre of Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. Later in life, he divorced Jane Wilde and both of them remarried. As the pair changed, their relationship evolved with them. They stayed close friends no matter what life threw at both of them.
“I want to share my excitement and enthusiasm about this quest.” Hawking’s legacy lives strong. He continues to serve as a symbol for resilience, drive, and intelligence.
“So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.”