Stephen Hawking, an author, a theoretical physicist, a cosmologist (1942-2018)

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With such a prevalent mind in cosmology gone, the legacy that Hawking leaves behind is a prestigious one. Not least of all for his desire to inspire and educate anyone willing to listen.
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Despite having one of the most sophisticated minds in modern cosmological theory, the personality and studies that Stephen Hawking encompassed are known in nearly every household. In fact, regardless of your desire to understand space, time, and how the universe is formed, it was Hawking ability to convey sheer determination in expanding knowledge that has inspired countless generations. Even more importantly, it will continue to inspire through his freely available thesis and best selling book, ‘A Brief History Of Time’.

 

It is these skills as a teacher and as an author that despite his death, will leave an eternal legacy.

 

REMEMBERING STEPHEN HAWKING

Many will know Stephen Hawking for his positive outlook on life, often dropping witty one-liners into his speeches, delivered in front of all manner of scientists, physicists, and theorists. He was even awarded the presidential medal of freedom by the American president Barack Obama, whilst also holding a position as Lucasian Professor of mathematics. This is not only an extremely prestigious and hard fought position but one shared by the likes of Isaac Newton, and Paul Dirac, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics.

Hawking has become synonymous for adversity in the face of overwhelming odds. Diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, he was initially given only years to live. Confronted with the inevitable prospect of death, Hawking’s determination was renowned. He went on to Cambridge University to pursue his PhD. His goal was simple, “a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” Not exactly a simple affair, many of us would have undoubtedly settled for an easier goal, and rightly so given the timespan Hawking potentially had left.

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME

It doesn’t matter whether you remember Stephen Hawking for his witty TV appearances (even appearing on ‘The Big Bang Theory’), his profound speeches, or the numerous movie adaptations of his life. For the vast majority, the publication of his book ‘A Brief History Of Time’ will be one of his greatest accolades. Not only was his goal to provide some understanding of how the universe worked, but in a way in which readers could develop an understanding of these complex cosmological theories without any prior knowledge. This takes not only the skill in itself to have studied and summarized these theories but a deep understanding of how he could present this information to a new audience. Much can be learned by the already 10 million people that have bought copies.

Covering what may seem like some of the most daunting topics Hawking attempts to break down the stigma surrounding the origins of the universe, inspiring what he described as a ‘thirst for knowledge’. He would openly advocate mankind’s need to look to the stars and invest in space travel. Black holes, space, and the arrows of time are all chapters in the book each one trying to present some of the most advanced, forward-thinking views in a logical but simplified manner. It would be all too easy to have undertaken this research and considered anyone that didn’t understand cosmological theories not worth the time to educate. This is a defining factor in what separates Hawking from others. He was not only relentless in expanding his own knowledge but also the knowledge of others.

 

This is a defining factor in what separates Hawking from others. He was not only relentless in expanding his own knowledge but also the knowledge of others.

 

WHAT DOES HIS THESIS REPRESENT?

The very origins of the universe. Just saying that statement makes the mind start to race, or for many of us, a small headache starts to form. Not only is the statement a hard one to swallow but where would one start if they wanted to explore how our universe and the millions of universes that exist actually came to be. Hawking was unwavering, using theories previously explored to prove or disprove what he was trying to hypothesize. It may come as a surprise to know that Stephen Hawking was actually wrong on many an occasion. He is fabled for agreeing to wagers with fellow scientists on key scientific theories, many of which he lost.

It is one thing to develop greater understanding, whether it be the concept of the universe or something as simple as a new cooking recipe. But to be proven wrong and use an alternate outcome as a means to adapt or influence your future way of thinking is a humbling skill that a lot of us would find difficult. If you can take nothing away from the works that Stephen Hawking undertook, then at the very least his drive, determination, and thirst for knowledge are all attributes that can be adopted and passed on. That thirst for knowledge was a trait he wanted all mankind to have.