This week we lost one of the most renowned scientists in the world.
Stephen Hawking was smart. Like on beyond Jeopardy smart. He was so smart that he made Albert Einstein look like Pee-Wee Herman. Ok, maybe not that smart, but you take my point.
Anyone who is anyone knows who Stephen Hawking was. Even if you’re like me and don’t follow every nuance in the world of science, chances are you still know Hawking’s name. Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21 and he lived with the disease for 55 years – longer than medical professionals predicted or anyone imagined.
Hawking was a rock star, first at Oxford and then at Cambridge, where he did his undergraduate and graduate work, respectively. But it wasn’t until 1988, with the publication of his seminal work A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes that he started to gain worldwide recognition. The book became a best seller, selling over 10 million copies in 20 years. It stayed on the London Sunday Times bestseller list for over five years.
I’ve had A Brief History of Time on my To-Be Read list for years. However, after reading his autobiography, My Brief History, I’m not sure I’m up to it. I knew what (most of) the words meant by themselves, but when he put them together…no idea. Did I mention he was smart?
Personally, I became a fan of Hawking when he started making cameos on one of my favorite TV shows, The Big Bang Theory. He was always such a good sport to play along with the boys, even “singing” Happy Birthday to Sheldon at one point.
In 2014, Hollywood got on board, making a movie out of his life called The Theory of Everything. And in 2016, he worked with PBS on a brief series called (what else?) Genius, where he helped everyday Joes like us solve complex science problems. It was really cool. At one point, they blew up ping pong balls.
Stephen Hawking was a great mind and he will be greatly missed. Who knows what scientific discoveries won’t be made now that we’ve lost his guidance and insight.
Rest in Peace, Professor Hawking
(1942 – 2018)