His search for a theory of everything became a story for everyone.
The internationally celebrated theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, has died at his home in Cambridge at the age of 76.
In a statement about their father’s death, his children Lucy, Robert and Tim acknowledged how his study of the stars inspired millions around the world: “He once said, ‘It wouldn’t be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”
The news broke on the same night that the UK awaited the Russian government’s response to the poisoning of a former spy on British soil – and was a timely reminder of what connects us across borders. “All we need to do is make sure we keep talking,” Hawking once advised humanity (with words that the bank Pink Floyd would later re-purpose).
Born in 1942, on the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo, his mother fled London’s war-time bombs for the safety of the countryside, and the young scientist would grow up in a house in St Albans with a basement full of bees and a greenhouse full of fireworks.
A passion for mathematics soon led him to a PhD in physics at the University of Cambridge. But the growing power of his mind was coming into conflict with the deteriorating state of his health, and he was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease called ASL. He was just 21 years old.
His symptoms would later require the use of a wheelchair and a voice-synthesiser, yet the experience spurred on his work. “Before my condition was diagnosed, I had been very bored with life. There had not seemed to be anything worth doing,” he wrote in his memoir. “I suddenly realised that there were a lot of worthwhile things …read more
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