Stephen Hawking, RIP

Dead at 76.

44 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    A beautiful life.

  2. 2
    rikyrah says:

    He lived a long life, with all his ailments.

  3. 3
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    This Obit at the Guardian by a former collaborator is also very good. ‘Mind over matter’: Stephen Hawking – obituary by Roger Penrose

  4. 4
    Skepticat says:

    What a painful start to the day, but how extraordinarily lucky we are that he lived as long as he did with those daunting health issues.

  5. 5
    Elizabelle says:

    Courageous man with a diamond sharp mind. It’s kind of cool that some of his theories will not be proved for centuries.

    He lived with grace and vigor, despite a terrible illness. Apparently had a wicked sense of humor, too.

  6. 6
    Cermet says:

    A truly great mind and funny, person. That he survived so long against such great odds just shows that will power can really trump even illness. We have lost a great scientist and we are the lesser for this but what he left behind makes us far greater.

  7. 7
    Leto says:

    I know he lived well past what was expected, but it still feels too soon.

    We have lost a great scientist and we are the lesser for this but what he left behind makes us far greater.

    May we all be so lucky.

  8. 8
    satby says:

    His daughter Lucy gave a lecture about her father once, which includes a picture from his zero gravity flight. I always remembered how happy that made him, to be momentarily free from his wheelchair.

  9. 9
    SG says:

    It was a miracle that he lived at all, yet it’s a shock that he’s no longer here to explain the cosmos to us. Losing his wisdom and intelligence is particularly terrible now.

  10. 10
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    He was diagnosed in grad school! He had a decision to make then, whether or not to bother continuing his studies given that in all probability he would not live to receive his doctorate.

    How fortunate for all of us that he decided to keep going.

  11. 11
    HinTN says:

    A giant of a man and a giant of a mind.

  12. 12
    ThresherK says:

    I don’t know the last-to-premiere guest shot he made, but it could be Eric Idle’s The Entire Universe just from late December.

    Hawking cameos on the end song. (Yes, there are songs.) The whole has that perfectly whimsical yet informative thing which certain Britons can do with aplomb.

  13. 13
    Elizabelle says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym: I know. Professor Hawking was made of strong, strong stuff.

    He spoke of living always in the shadow of death, and that death did not frighten him. And, because of his intellect and work, he and his theories have achieved immortality.

    But how good that he lived so long, amidst his family.

    The Guardian: Stephen Hawking, science’s brightest star, dies aged 76

    … Those who live in the shadow of death are often those who live most. For Hawking, the early diagnosis of his terminal disease, and witnessing the death from leukaemia of a boy he knew in hospital, ignited a fresh sense of purpose. “Although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research,” he once said. Embarking on his career in earnest, he declared: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

    …. Hawking was not, perhaps, the greatest physicist of his time, but in cosmology he was a towering figure. There is no perfect proxy for scientific worth, but Hawking won the Albert Einstein award, the Wolf prize, the Copley medal, and the Fundamental Physics prize. The Nobel prize, however, eluded him.

    He was fond of scientific wagers, despite a knack for losing them. In 1975, he bet the US physicist Kip Thorne a subscription to Penthouse that the cosmic x-ray source Cygnus X-1 was not a black hole. He lost in 1990. In 1997, Hawking and Thorne bet John Preskill an encyclopaedia that information must be lost in black holes. Hawking conceded in 2004. In 2012, Hawking lost $100 to Gordon Kane for betting that the Higgs boson would not be discovered.

    He lectured at the White House during the Clinton administration – his oblique references to the Monica Lewinsky episode were evidently lost on those who screened his speech [cheeky!] – and returned in 2009 to receive the presidential medal of freedom from Barack Obama. His life was played out in biographies and documentaries, most recently The Theory of Everything, in which Eddie Redmayne played him. He appeared on The Simpsons and played poker with Einstein and Newton on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He delivered gorgeous put-downs on The Big Bang Theory. “What do Sheldon Cooper and a black hole have in common?” Hawking asked the fictional Caltech physicist whose IQ comfortably outstrips his social skills. After a pause, the answer came: “They both suck.”

    Hawking has argued that for humanity to survive it must spread out into space, and has warned against the worst applications of artificial intelligence, including autonomous weapons.

    …. Some of his most outspoken comments offended the religious. In his 2010 book, Grand Design, he declared that God was not needed to set the universe going, and in an interview with the Guardian a year later, dismissed the comforts of religious belief.

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

    He spoke also of death, an eventuality that sat on a more distant horizon than doctors thought. “I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die,” he said. “I have so much I want to do first.”

  14. 14
    artem1s says:

    serendipity? it’s Pi day

  15. 15
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    Further musings on Hawkings’ long life and Trump’s sitting in the White House. Maybe we’re in a “tail of the distribution” universe where our simulators make all sorts of unlikely events occur to see what happens.

    I eagerly await the new monkey-authored Shakespeare edition.

  16. 16
    kindness says:

    I wonder what wonders Stephen can see from the other side?

  17. 17
    ThresherK says:

    Just thinking of all the luminaries who may be invited to his service, and all the flat-earth-equivalents who shouldn’t, but will be extended one out of courtesy.

  18. 18
    mai naem mobile says:

    High IQ person. High energy person. Taught at Cambridge University. Klassy world class univwristy. Sad.

  19. 19
    Catherine D. says:

    He was just in the latest BBC Radio Hitchhiker’s Guide (The Hexagonal Phase) playing The Guide Mark II.

  20. 20
    Zinsky says:

    Most ALS victims don’t live to be 50. In a time when the word “genius”, is tossed around too freely, Hawking truly was one.

    Hawking once said this about intelligence – “People who boast about their IQ are losers.” Do we know anyone, perhaps an occupant of the White House, that this quote might apply to?

  21. 21
    TomatoQueen says:

    And it’s Einstein’s birthday.

  22. 22
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Saved for later. Penrose is a good and clear writer, in addition to being a superlative physicist.

  23. 23
    Cermet says:

    @TomatoQueen: Good point
    as is

    Newton was born within a year after Galileo’s death – I wonder what truly great physicist will be born within a year of this event that may well far exceed all these luminaries?

  24. 24
    chopper says:

    I had been thinking about him recently, as not likely to live much longer. of all of his accomplishments, living 55 years with ALS is one of the most astounding.

  25. 25
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Here’s an excellent short explainer by Sabine Hossenfelder on Hawking’s scientific legacy.

  26. 26
    AnonPhenom says:

    A mind and spirit that will be sorely missed.The collective IQ of the human race just dropped a point.

  27. 27
    HypersphericalCow says:

    I think my first awareness of Hawking was when appeared on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Captain Picard was in the holodeck, playing cards with some of the greatest physicists in history: Newton, Einstein, and Hawking. Hawking won the game, of course.

  28. 28
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    I read A Brief History of Time (YES, I did!) and I was doing pretty good until he got to quarks and sub quarks, and then I lost my ability to comprehend. Undaunted, I purchased the audio book version read by Michael Jackson (no, the other one). When he got to the part about quarks and sub quarks I drifted again at the same point, right when it sounded like Jackson had no clue what he was saying. Years later, Jackson was doing an interview, and was asked about doing the audio version of Hawking’s book, and he said that at some point he had no idea what he was saying. I yelled at the radio, “And I know exactly where!” Godspeed Stephen Hawking.

  29. 29

    Here is a brief mash-up of his Simpsons and Futurama cameos.

    FRY: Aren’t you that physicist that invented gravity?
    HAWKING: Sure. Why not.

  30. 30
    LAO says:

    What an amazing man and what an amazing mind. I think that the tweet of God summed it up pretty well:

    It’s only been a few hours and Stephen Hawking already mathematically proved, to My face, that I don’t exist.— God (@TheTweetOfGod) March 14, 2018

  31. 31
    Bruuuuce says:

    ::cries a little::

    Since nobody else has posted it yet, here’s his appearance with Monty Python at O2. Of course he gets the best lines.

  32. 32
    GregB says:

    These high school kids protesting the current horrible state of America are making me weepy.

    If these kids, the Me Too movement and every other group targeted by Trump’s shock troops and orcs, they will be driven into the dirt.

    Trump is such a horrible, disgusting example of a human being and that his behavior is celebrated by his foolish followers in America is such a national shame.

    That shame is coming to an end.

  33. 33
    Yarrow says:

    @satby: The news showed video of that zero gravity flight. He looked so happy! I had the privilege of attending a lecture he gave. It was riveting. The entire large crowd was fully engaged. RIP, Stephen Hawking. He gave us so much, helped our minds soar, and brought us back to earth with a laugh.

  34. 34
    stinger says:


    Most ALS victims don’t live to be 50.

    Unless of course they get it when they are older than 50, which is most of them. Anyway, they typically live only a few years after diagnosis. Hawking had an unusual variant of the disease.

  35. 35
    Hermann Fegelein says:

    Pour one out for the Hawkman.

  36. 36
    randy khan says:

    @The Midnight Lurker:

    I discovered that A Brief History of Time was a really fine book to read at the beach, where there are no distractions.

    I recall someone writing once that ABHoT was the book most likely to be bought by people who think of themselves as intellectuals, and then to sit unread on the coffee table. It definitely was not an easy read.

  37. 37
    randy khan says:

    I have said this elsewhere, but the universe is a bit dimmer now that one of its brightest stars has gone out.

  38. 38
    cain says:

    A great mind has passed from this world. We are lessened for it.

  39. 39
    No Drought No More says:

    I just read a fine sketch of Hawking’s life (by Mark Summer over at Daily Kos). For some reason, it brought to mind the undaunted courage and achievements of Franklin Roosevelt. Americans tend to overlook the fact that FDR was stricken with polio a mere 11 years prior to being elected president* (and that during an era when physical disability was stigmatized to a far greater degree than even today). The spirit that lit the lives of those two is the stuff of legend. And perhaps, as Ringo Starr once sang, “There within your reach, If you’re big enough to take it”..

    *For a great read about FDR and polio is the book: The Man He Became (James Tobin; Simon & Schuster; Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award).

  40. 40
    Brachiator says:

    @No Drought No More:

    Hawking, FDR… The spirit that lit the lives of those two is the stuff of legend. And perhaps, as Ringo Starr once sang, “There within your reach, If you’re big enough to take it”..

    Ringo Starr himself was twice afflicted by life-threatening illnesses during childhood. During one recuperation, he was given a drug as part of his therapy. He always seemed to be one of the happiest of the Beatles. These three demonstrate how resilient the human spirit can be.

  41. 41
    Cacti says:

    A great light has gone out of the world.

    RIP Dr. Hawking.

  42. 42
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: FTR Penrose has good-naturedly been playing Schiller to Hawking’s Goethe for decades (i.e., he’s the guy who’d’ve been the consensus Smartest Chelovek in STEM if not for SH).

    Anyone with an interest in science & math should check out Penrose’s The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe (2004). It’s >1000 pages long, the first 380 of which offer an illustrated accessible-to-nongeniuses course in all of the required mathematics (8^O). (I bought a copy years ago, only recently rediscovered, & am slowly working my way through it…)

  43. 43
    J R in WV says:


    What a wonderful picture of the great man, smiling and floating in space like that.

    Thanks for the link Satby, greatly appreciated!

  44. 44
    grumpy realist says:

    I think I’m going to start plowing through my copy of Gravitation again in memory of Stephen Hawking.

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