Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of our times and arguably the world’s most recognisable scientist alongside Albert Einstein, has died at the age of 76. Tributes have been paid to world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who died 55 years after being told he had two more years to live.
The British scientist, who was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease aged 22, is known for his work on black holes and relativity. The University of Cambridge, where Hawking completed his PhD and went on to become Lucasian Professor of Mathematics – a role also held by Isaac Newton – called him “an inspiration to millions”.
Prime Minister Theresa May praised his “brilliant and extraordinary mind” and called him “one of the great scientists of his generation” whose “courage, humour and determination to get the most from life was an inspiration”.
Although the majority of tributes that have been made since his death have predictably focussed on his astounding intellect and determination, many have also praised his humour, with actor Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed Prof Hawking in film biopic ‘The Theory of Everything’ in 2014, saying “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”
Professor Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, where Prof Hawking rose to become the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, said he has left “an indelible legacy”. “Professor Hawking was a unique individual who will be remembered with warmth and affection not only in Cambridge but all over the world,” he said. “His character was an inspiration to millions. He will be much missed.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Professor Brian Cox called Hawking “one of the greats” and said physicists in 1,000 years’ time “will still be talking about Hawking radiation”. Cox added: “There are at least three and possibly more areas where his work will be remembered as long as there are cosmologists and that’s the best you can hope for as a scientist.”
American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted: “His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure.”
Rest in Peace Stephen Hawking.