Stephen Hawking, Legendary Physicist, Dies at Age 76

The undeniable heavyweight champion of physics, Stephen Hawking, has died at his home in Cambridge, England on the anniversary of Albert Einstein’s birth, March 13. Hawking became famous for explaining in layman terms the complex workings of the universe and would dedicate a large part of his later life to, what he called, a “theory of everything”, reports the New York Post

In 1963, Hawking began showing signs of the debilitating disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was given just two years to live. As the disease progressed, Hawking went from using a cane to assist in walking to eventually becoming wheelchair bound and communicating through a voice synthesizer.

Despite the ravages of the disease, Hawking would go on to be named the Lucasian professor at Cambridge in 1979, a position once held by Isaac Newton in 1663.

The complexities of physics and cosmology were made simpler and mainstream thanks to Hawking’s book “A Brief History of Time”. The former physicist’s pursuit of a theory of everything embodied the desire to finally work out the contradictions that existed between Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Hawking believed that if successful, such a theory would unravel the mind of God for humanity to understand. As time went on, however, Hawking grew more and more disillusioned with the theory and said it might not be possible to ever solve the contradictions.

It is Hawking’s views on God that garnered the most criticism. At one point in his career described a belief in a God who actively involves Himself in the universe ‘wishful thinking’.

The role of a divine creator, however, did haunt the physicist.

“But one can’t help asking the question: Why does the universe exist?” he said in 1991. “I don’t know an operational way to give the question or the answer, if there is one, a meaning. But it bothers me.”

Hawking’s death is a tremendous loss for the world. His insights and powerful mind helped charge generations of scientists and will continue to inspire future leaders in the field.

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