On 14th March 2018 Professor Stephen Hawking passed away. This date is Albert Einstein’s birthday. The Professor was born on January 8, 1942 – the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo – two bizarre coincidences linking him with two other giants in the scientific world. These are some of my thoughts on the impact this man made on me.
I consider the professor to be inspirational on many levels; here are three levels which occur to me:
As a physicist.
As a young man I went to university to study physics. Professor Hawking was one of the great minds in physics, particularly in the areas of physics which interested me most – cosmology. He pushed back the frontier of knowledge of the extreme conditions in and very close to black holes. Although now I am obviously in a totally different career, I still enjoy following the developments of science. I don’t claim to have the intelligence to be able to follow the details of modern physics but Professor Hawking was one of the scientists who had a knack of being able to explain complex physical phenomena so that us ‘normal’ people can understand (well, almost understand).
As a man determined to live life to the full.
As a young man Professor Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, a crippling, degenerative disease and was only given a few years to live. I can’t imagine the degree of torment and despair this must have caused him but he still managed to live a family life, to forge a brilliant career and travel the world giving lectures to educate and inspire scientists. Even when the disease took away his ability to talk he still gave lectures using his electronic voice simulator. His travels included a ride in the zero gravity experience plane. He obviously managed to maintain a sense of humour, he appeared in an episode of ‘The Simpsons’, an episode of ‘Futurama’, an episode of ‘Star Trek – The Next Generation’ and was credited as a guest vocalist on two Pink Floyd songs.
As a supporter of the NHS.
Professor Hawking was a great supporter of the NHS, our healthcare system here in the UK. He spoke out publicly in support of the system and spoke against the underfunding and lack of support from the current political regime, much to the irritation of our ruling politicians. An absolute hero to all of us who care about or work in the NHS.
To end this blog I would like to send my thoughts and condolences to his family and friends and include my favourite Stephen Hawking quote:
“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” Professor Hawking 2016.
Professor Stephen Hawking. 1942 – 2018.