Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at 76

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Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, whose groundbreaking work in theoretical physics and quantum mechanics changed our understanding of the universe including The Big Bang, black holes, space and time, passed away today at the age of 76. Hawking’s achievements are even more astounding in light of his medical condition, a slow-progressing form of ALS which robbed him of his ability to speak and move. He communicated through a muscle in his cheek which triggered a speech generator.

Hawking was portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. Hawking’s sharp wit was shown in that film, and Redmayne praised Hawking as “the funniest man I have ever met.” Tributes are pouring in for this incredible man. His family issued a touching statement:

“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 forever.”

[via BBC]

There are so many other messages for Hawking that it’s hard to know what to post.

I’m tearing up thinking about this great man who changed the course of history. The BBC quoted young YouTuber Sally Le Page, who summed up his influence well.

My son’s favorite science YouTuber, VSauce, posted the 1991 documentary of Hawking’s life and work to date, A Brief History of Time. I haven’t seen it yet but it strikes me how lucky we are that we had him for so long. (After I wrote that I found that the filmmaker tweeted that exact sentiment.) RIP Stephen Hawking.

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Stephen Hawking

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68 Responses to “Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at 76”

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  1. Clare says:

    Seeing flags at half mast this morning made me tear up a little.

    I hope he will be remembered for not only his contributions to science, but also his sense of humor and steadfast support of basic human rights, like healthcare.

    • Rachel in August says:

      Yes, I was absolutely in awe of him. Second only to Einstein, apparently. RIP :’(

    • teacakes says:

      Seconding this, though I didn’t know they kept the flags at half mast.

      It was a fitting tribute though, and I hope the NHS – which made it possible for him to be in this world fifty-five years after his diagnosis – survives what the UK government has been doing to it over the last eight years.

      • Clare says:

        Hi Teacakes – it was flags at our university (where he was a professor and fellow) that the flag was at half mast.

        Sorry, I should have been more clear.

  2. PunkyMomma says:

    One of my heroes.

    Thank you Dr. Hawking.

  3. ORIGINAL T.C. says:

    Aww sad news but grateful for his advancement of science during his lifetime. I fear for the future with the current war on science, loss of funding to our research institutions and lack of critical thinking. RIP.

    • Esmom says:

      I know. The void he leaves feels especially terrifying at this moment in history. RIP indeed.

    • ichsi says:

      Me three. Parts of me are glad that he won’t have to see where we’re headed.

    • Milla says:

      Don’t be afraid. Science belongs to women more and more every day, this is one thing i know for a fact. There was always a war on science, but it’s pointless, it’s been pointless since dark middle ages.
      This man is an inspiration, but his death isn’t sad cos his body couldn’t take it anymore. He beat the odds for 50 years. It’s not a miracle, but science.

  4. Lexter says:

    A brilliant man. We were lucky to have been blessed with his mind as long as we were. May his theories live on and we become better societies in part due to him.

  5. Jker says:

    This one hurts, your loss will be felt the world over for generations to come.

    Thank you Dr. Hawking, for your genius and your heart, we didn’t deserve you.

  6. Lena says:

    In these times, can we also remember that he was a huge supporter of the NHS, that he himself said he wouldn’t have lived nearly as long without it and campaigned against the backdoor privatization of it until he died? If you want to do something in his memory, especially if you live in the UK, how about supporting the campaign for the NHS?

  7. Digital Unicorn says:

    RIP – may you now fly among the stars you so loved. The world is a poorer place now.

    • Shappalled says:

      He didn’t believe in an afterlife. He thought it was a fairytale people told themselves to cope with their fear of death.

  8. Seraphina says:

    RIP, he passed on 3.14 which is Π day.

    • Liberty says:

      I am saddened, but this is kind of brilliant.

      A physicist I knew had the opportunity to have a meeting with Hawking and two colleagues about fifteen years ago. He also mentioned Hawking’s wonderful sense of humor during the telling of a story.

    • Astrid says:

      great connection, thanks!

    • smcollins says:

      Wow, I totally missed that! He was also born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death. Talk about the stars aligning.

    • Betsy says:

      Ha! Way to go, Stephen.

    • Coco says:

      My Chemistry professor was in awe he died on Pi Day. She thought it very interesting that if we had to lose him, that it was on 3.14!

    • nemo says:

      …and Einstein’s birthday.

  9. OFofOC says:

    Nothing else matters today.

    • Snazzy says:

      it really doesn’t. I can’t stop thinking about it. As those in power move further and further away from facts and science, it was people like Dr Hawking that somehow provided a balance. The world really is poorer now than it was yesterday

    • Sam says:

      Something tells me he’d want the nation wide student walk out to matter.

  10. Eliza says:

    The world is poorer with his loss.

  11. smcollins says:

    RIP Professor Hawking.
    I love the EAS photo. It’s a great example of how he didn’t allow a debilitating illness to break his spirit or sense of adventure. The universe, not just the world, won’t be the same without him.

  12. jwoolman says:

    He was actually working with someone who hoped to directly use brain waves for computer input. Hawking was losing control over the cheek muscle which was just about the last usable muscle for that. Hope that research continues.

    But he had a wonderfully long run. He was very lucky that his disease didn’t start to limit him until he was already established as a brilliant theorist and teacher, so there were plenty of people willing to help him stay connected. He will live on through his books and papers and students.

  13. Sparkly says:

    Such a shame. I wish I understood more of his work. He was an amazing man. May he rest in peace.

  14. bluhare says:

    A man who got me looking at things I wouldn’t have otherwise.

    RIP Dr. Hawking.

  15. Mia4s says:

    The gave him 2 years to live…he lived 55 more. Keep that in mind when things seem impossible. Cheers Dr. Hawking.

  16. Patricia says:

    My dad is currently suffering with ALS so I have lots of different emotions about this passing today. This man was an inspiration not only as a scientist but also as a human being who was struck with the biggest piece of shit illness out there.

    • Nancy says:

      Stay strong Patricia. I have been in your shoes and know first hand the emotions you and your family are going through. I wish the best for your father and hope he is getting everything possible to make it more comfortable for him. Always think positive!!

  17. Alix says:

    Somewhere in TV Land, Sheldon Cooper is refusing to get out of bed today.

    A great man indeed.

    • gatorbait says:

      That was oddly one of my first thoughts. I know BBT is considered sh*t tv around here but it always makes me and my son laugh. Sometimes silly, stupid humor is a good thing. We need to laugh now more than ever.

      • Alix says:

        Mine too, isn’t that odd? I like BBT… and of course Hawking was hilarious on that show as well. I bet they address his passing at some point.

  18. Nicole says:

    So upsetting. He’s done so much for science and the way to approach thinking. All while being told he wouldn’t make it to 24. He surpassed every limitation and the world didn’t deserve him.

  19. Betsy says:

    I know he didn’t believe in an afterlife, so I will say I hope he resides in peace and that his family finds comfort in the international tributes.

  20. Eric says:

    It’s time to put this scientist among the stars, perhaps soaring in a soon-to-be renamed constellation in his honor. The Hawking Constellation.
    Sounds about right.

  21. Lucy says:

    I did know his health was extremely fragile during his last years, so this doesn’t come as much of a surprise (sadly). Glad he got to live a long, happy life. Rest in peace, Dr. Hawking.

  22. Chef Grace says:

    His star shines brightly somewhere in the vast universe he taught so many to reach for.

  23. Masamf says:

    Just here to say that Im glad Dr. Hawkins has gone to rest. Hope and pray for peace and blessings for his family and all loved ones.

  24. Alexandria says:

    I hope he did not suffer long. Thank you Dr Hawking.

    It’s really tragic that such an extraordinary man left us while Dotard is President.

  25. Harryg says:

    This is terrible. No one can take his place.

  26. Rumi says:

    He was brilliant and proved that when you put your mind to it, you can truly achieve anything. RIP.

  27. Nancy says:

    I lost someone I love very much to ALS. It is a disease with no mercy. I don’t know how Mr. Hawking survived for so long with this illness. He was meant to be here to spread his wisdom to us who simply don’t understand the things that he did. I hope, contrary to his beliefs there is some sort of energy after life, and he is dwelling in it in peace and without pain.

  28. Aren says:

    This is a great loss, he was not only a genius but also a very beautiful person who worked to make the world a better place for people to live in.
    It’s so heart-breaking that he’s gone.

  29. A says:

    If anyone has the time or the patience today, I would urge you all to find the original scientific paper that Hawking published on black holes and give it a read. Not the endless articles summarizing what that paper said, but the actual paper itself. If you’re hesitant to delve into scientific literature, remember to be patient with yourself and have Wikipedia open on a tab so that you can look up whatever you don’t understand. I have it on good authority that even the best of us do that sometimes.

    The most important way you can honour his memory and his work is by becoming familiar with it, and through developing scientific literacy in general. Stephen Hawking was committed to scientific truth at an age when people prioritize lies that cater to their base feelings. The only way we can defeat that is by developing the tools to become more discerning and think for ourselves. Because whether we like it or not, the truth still exists, and it isn’t going away any time soon.

    RIP Stephen Hawking.

  30. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    He’s a hero in my household, and he’s given us more in his lifetime than there are stars in the cosmos. Thank you Stephen, for being a galactic and monumental bridge.

  31. DiligentDiva says:

    This is sad, I woke up to the news. We lost a good person.

  32. Suny says:

    My husband passed away 1 week ago today from ALS. He fought so hard in the 2 years since DX. At 37 he was pretty fast progressing. Hawkins passing has brought up so many emotions today. He was an inspiration to those who had to live with this monster that takes every damn thing away, before it take you too. RIP Mr. Hawkins. Thank you for giving so many hope.

    • HelloSunshine says:

      I’m very sorry about your husband and I hope internet stranger hugs (or fist bumps, whatever you prefer really) help. You’re a strong human being and I’m sure your husband was so grateful to have you and be loved by you ❤️

    • april says:

      So sorry for your loss. Hugs.

    • Cintra.C says:

      Oh gosh, I am so sorry for your loss. Peace and strength to you and your family.

  33. teacakes says:

    He was a brilliant man and the world is a poorer place without him in it. It was a real shock to wake up to the news, I realised that in some ways I’d basically believed he was immortal.

    May he rest in peace, and I’ll join in the sentiment that I hope his life and achievements spur a greater interest in and respect for science in our anti-facts age.

  34. Nives says:

    It’s so sad. RIP Stephen Hawkins. We just lost one of the greatest minds that ever lived

  35. llc says:

    He was a brilliant and kind man. It goes without saying, really. But he was also a lot of fun! People around here are generally not Big Bang Theory fans, but his cameos were wonderful!

  36. Veeve says:

    RIP Dr Hawking.
    He and I share a birthday I’ve always had a drink for him during my celebrating.Tonight I will have one for him.

  37. Tallia says:

    What a brilliant, brilliant man. I like the thought of him in the cosmos somewhere.