You are in: Home » Email

Stephen Hawking, who unlocked the secrets of space and time, dies at 76Wed, 14 Mar, 2018 | Posted By: The Times Of Earth (TOE)

Stephen Hawking, who unlocked the secrets of space and time, dies at 76 Stephen Hawking speaks to members of the media at a press conference in London on Dec. 2, 2014. IMAGE: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP / GETTY IMAGES
Stephen Hawking, who sought to explain the origins of the universe, the mysteries of black holes and the nature of time itself, died on Wednesday aged 76.

“At Caius he will always be ‘Stephen’ – the man whose wicked sense of humor enlivened high table dinners and saw him spinning uproariously around hall in his wheelchair to the strains of a waltz at a college party,” it said in a tribute.

Since 1974, Hawking worked extensively on marrying the two cornerstones of modern physics - Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which concerns gravity and large-scale phenomena, and quantum theory, which covers subatomic particles.

As a result of that research, Hawking proposed a model of the universe based on two concepts of time: “”real time”, or time as human beings experience it, and “quantum theory’s “imaginary time”, on which the world may really run.

“Imaginary time may sound like science fiction ... but it is a genuine scientific concept,” he wrote in a lecture paper.

He caused some controversy among biologists when he said he saw computer viruses as a life form, and thus the human race’s first act of creation.

“”I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive,” he told a forum in Boston. ““We’ve created life in our own image.”

“At Caius he will always be ‘Stephen’ – the man whose wicked sense of humor enlivened high table dinners and saw him spinning uproariously around hall in his wheelchair to the strains of a waltz at a college party,” it said in a tribute.

Since 1974, Hawking worked extensively on marrying the two cornerstones of modern physics - Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which concerns gravity and large-scale phenomena, and quantum theory, which covers subatomic particles.

As a result of that research, Hawking proposed a model of the universe based on two concepts of time: “”real time”, or time as human beings experience it, and “quantum theory’s “imaginary time”, on which the world may really run.

“Imaginary time may sound like science fiction ... but it is a genuine scientific concept,” he wrote in a lecture paper.

He caused some controversy among biologists when he said he saw computer viruses as a life form, and thus the human race’s first act of creation.

“”I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive,” he told a forum in Boston. ““We’ve created life in our own image.”

Another major area of his research was into black holes, the regions of space-time where gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape.

When asked whether God had a place in his work, Hawking once said: ““In a way, if we understand the universe, we are in the position of God.”

He married undergraduate Jane Wilde in July 1965 and the couple had Robert, Lucy and Timothy. But Hawking tells in his 2013 memoir how Wilde became more and more depressed as her husband’s condition worsened.

“She was worried I was going to die soon and wanted someone who would give her and the children support and marry her when I was gone,” he wrote.

Wilde took up with a local musician and gave him a room in the family apartment, Hawking said. “I would have objected but I too was expecting an early death ...,” he said.

He divorced Wilde in 1990 and in 1995 married one of his nurses Elaine Mason, whose ex-husband David had designed the electronic voice synthesizer that allowed him to communicate. The pair divorced in 2007.

Stephen William Hawking was born on Jan. 8, 1942. He grew up in and around London. After studying physics at Oxford University, he was in his first year of research work at Cambridge when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

“The realization that I had an incurable disease that was likely to kill me in a few years was a bit of a shock,” he wrote in his memoir.

In fact there were even advantages to being confined to a wheelchair and having to speak through a voice synthesizer.

“I haven’t had to lecture or teach undergraduates and I haven’t had to sit on tedious and time-consuming committees. So I have been able to devote myself completely to research,” he wrote.

“I became possibly the best-known scientist in the world. This is partly because scientists, apart from Einstein, are not widely known rock stars, and partly because I fit the stereotype of a disabled genius.”

SOURCE: REUTERS
comments powered by Disqus