On behalf of cosmologists everywhere, as well as all who share a love for knowledge and intellectual elegance, we salute the life of the great physicist and theorist Stephen Hawking:
With mathematician Roger Penrose, Hawking used Einstein’s theory of relativity to trace the origins of time and space to a single point of zero size and infinite density. Their work gave mathematical expression to the Big Bang theory, proposed by Belgian priest Georges Lemaitre in 1927 and supported two years later by Edwin Hubble’s discovery that the universe is expanding.
“By any reasonable standard, Stephen Hawking is a great scientist. Even if time shows some of his more radical proposals to be incorrect, Hawking will have had a profound impact on the history of science,” Henry F Schaefer III, a chemistry professor at the University of Georgia, said in a 2001 lecture.
His great and [mostly] accessible A Brief History of Time was first published in 1988, earning Hawking worldwide acclaim, selling at least 10m copies in 40 languages, while taking up residence on the bestseller list of the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper for a record 237 weeks. It inspired music by Philip Glass for a film by Errol Morris, and students the world over to at least entertain sophisticated scientific concepts a bit longer than we might have. For that alone, great thanks and respect.
Requiesce in pace.
Image: cover of the classic.