Header image via @chrissimpsonsartist
I don't know about you, but the news of Stephen Hawking's death today has hit me with a strange sadness that feels especially poignant; I am so honoured to have been alive at the same time as such an undeniably intelligent and otherwordly mind, and to have his knowledge embedded in the legacy of the century I am lucky enough to have lived through. The most striking thing to me today though, is not just his incredible achievements, but in fact the very existence of those achievements- no, triumphs- of human endeavour in the face of overwhelming odds; a lesson to us all in unbreakable perserverance.
Right up until the meaning of his passing last night, Stephen Hawking is a brilliant example of how to be your best self, no matter the challenge facing you. He didn't ever give up on either himself or his work; despite being faced with the prospect of an early death since the day of his ALS diagnosis.
He inspired generations; his lasting influence on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as well as his confidence in continuing to make a difference despite his condition acting as a role model for the disabled. Hawking has shown time after time that the daily battle with our internal critic, especially around ideas of identity, is not impossible to overcome.
Words couldn't begin to describe the loss that the global community feels today now that the world's most famous physicist has gone, but they can help us understand the breadth of his influence on our knowledge of the universe and of humanity. So let us remember Hawking as the legend he was with these 5 quotes from those who knew and loved him.
- "His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure." - Neil deGrasse Tyson
- "“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said: ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him for ever.” - Stephen Hawking's children
- “Stephen was far from being the archetypal unworldy or nerdish scientist. His personality remained amazingly unwarped by his frustrations. Few, if any, of Einstein’s successors have done more to deepen our insights into gravity, space and time...Even mere survival would have been a medical marvel, but of course he didn't just survive. He became one of the most famous scientists in the world. He was diagnosed with a deadly disease, and his expectations dropped to zero. He himself said that everything that happened since then was a bonus. And what a triumph his life has been,” - Lord Rees
- "Hawking inspired the world with his determination to explain the mysteries of the cosmos, and showed breathtaking courage to overcome life's adversities" - Jeremy Corbyn
- ""Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science. His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity." - NASA