Complex Made Simple

Science lost one of its greatest: Professor Stephen Hawking is dead at 76

A star is dead and born every second, but this one is lost forever.

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking who battled Lou Gehrig’s disease his entire adult life, and was wheelchair-bound and paralyzed, has died at the age of 76.

He taught at the University of Cambridge, and his life was marked by mind boggling discoveries in the field of physics, mathematics and cosmology.

“His better-known works involve black holes and the theory of relativity. He also wrote a number of popular science books, including ‘A Brief History of Time.’,” said CNBC

“In recent months, Hawking warned vocally about the dangers posed by artificial intelligence. Last year, he said A.I. could be the “worst event in the history of our civilization.”

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Window on Life

Stephen Hawking together with fellow physicist Roger Penrose, merged Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes, reported CNN.

“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many,” he wrote on his website.

CNN said that Hawking was married twice, the first with Jane Wilde, remaining together for 30 years before divorcing in 1995, and 11 years later to Elaine Mason, one of his former nurses.

In an interview with CNN in October 2008, Hawking said that if humans can survive the next 200 years and learn to live in space, “then our future will be bright.”

“I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” Hawking told CNN’s Becky Anderson.

“I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he once said.

Hawking leaves behind three children and three grandchildren, according to his website.

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Space and time

“My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

The Guardian reported that Hawking’s first major breakthrough came in 1970, when he and Roger Penrose applied the mathematics of black holes to the entire universe and showed that a singularity, a region of infinite curvature in spacetime, lay in our distant past: the point from which came the big bang.

“In 1974 Hawking drew on quantum theory to declare that black holes should emit heat and eventually pop out of existence,” said the British daily.

“Near the ends of their lives, mini-black holes release heat at a spectacular rate, eventually exploding with the energy of a million one-megaton hydrogen bombs. Miniature black holes dot the universe, Hawking said, each as heavy as a billion tonnes, but no larger than a proton.”

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But it was A Brief History of Time that rocketed Hawking to stardom.

“Published for the first time in 1988, the title made the Guinness Book of Records after it stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an unprecedented 237 weeks. It sold 10m copies and was translated into 40 different languages,” said theGuardian.

Some of his most outspoken comments offended the religious.

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he said.