Remember Stephen Hawking: Hawking leaves legacy of theoretical physics research and groundbreaking discoveries


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hawking gives a lecture for NASA’s 50th anniversary in 2008. He died on Mar. 14 at age 76 in his home in Cambridge, England.

by Gloria Zhang and Nicole Chen

Renowned theoretical physicist and author Stephen Hawking died at age 76 on March 14 after a long battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Members of Hawking’s family released a statement shortly after his death saying he died at his home in Cambridge, England.

As the Director of Research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, his breakthrough research covers gravitational singularity theorems in relation to general relativity and the prediction of “Hawking radiation,” the notion of radiation emitted from black holes.

“I learned about Stephen Hawking during my primary school years in Beijing. We had a Chinese textbook and one of the passages was about Stephen Hawking.” Emma Li (10) said, “a description [in the text] that really made an impact on me was that it took eight hours for him to type his speech, but still he ended up being one of the most influential person. I was particularly fascinated by his research on the black hole.”

Recognized as one of the most influential scientists in the modern era, his research has revolutionized the way physicists and scientists view black holes and elements of the universe. Accordingly, Hawking was an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among other achievements.

Hawking published his work in 1988 in his best-selling book “A Brief History of Time,” which made his work accessible to individuals who no prior background in physics.

Hawking is a role model for chemistry teacher Dr. Smriti Koodenjari. She is an avid enthusiast of physics and encountered Hawking a several years ago in a conference.

“I was a teenager, and my dad. . . brought home a book, “A Brief History of Time”. In the beginning I was a little confused with the physics, but I persisted, and it was almost like, ‘Wow!’. I had this feeling,” she said. “I was so stunned and surprised [about the twin theory]. I ran into the kitchen and my mom was cutting vegetables. I said, ‘Did you know?’—talking about the twin theory. She didn’t get it and didn’t care and kept cutting her vegetables.”

In 2014, film The Theory of Everything featured the life and relationship of Hawking and former wife, Jane Hawking, exploring family and health problems.

Hawking began experiencing symptoms of ALS, a rare early onset motor neurone disease, at age 21, when doctors predicted only two more years to live. Fortunately, Hawking survived for much longer though he developed near-total paralysis, impaired motor functions and limited speech ability.

“The resilience he has. He could easily given up [because of his disease]. He could’ve told himself that ‘I’m going to die’ and ‘I’m going to be completely paralyzed’. But he’s always been grateful. He’s always had a sense of humour. In talk shows, he’s pretty sarcastic and funny. What I admire about him is his having the will to live and living a good life, in spite of not being able to move. I think he laughs at his disability.” Dr. Koodenjari said.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on March 29, 2018.