Stephen Hawking: Man Who Defied All Odds

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One hundred and thirty-nine years ago today, the universe graced us with the birth of a genius who would go on to revolutionize the world of physics and in doing so, forever immortalize the name, Albert Einstein. Perhaps it’s somewhat poetic that on the same day, the universe decides to take back another physics superstar, Stephen Hawking.

Hawking was a brilliant scientist and made far too many original contributions to physics and cosmology that can be accounted for in this post. Some of his most exemplary work included his collaboration with Roger Penrose in which they proved that a universe that started with a hot big bang and based on a general relativistic description, obeying the strong energy condition, must have an initial singularity. These mathematical theorems came to be known as the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems. Hawking, however, is most famous for his work on black holes – especially in deriving the laws of thermodynamics for them, which subsequently led to the rise of the AdS/CFT (anti-de Sitter/Conformal Field Theory) framework. He predicted that black holes would give off radiation, which in time came to be known as Hawking radiation and began one of the biggest debates in physics on information paradox. Hawking was also one of the first few people who tried to give a quantum mechanical account of the birth of universe by describing the universe using a quantum state. His work with James Hartle lead to the Hartle-Hawking no-boundary proposal, which is one explanation of where the universe came from. These are some of the many achievements of Hawking, who was the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics, a post once held by Isaac Newton and Paul Dirac.

‘How Notable Scientists remember Hawking’

“Stephen Hawking provided unique insights into quantum effects near a black hole. He was the first to realize that black holes are not completely black and can radiate energy acting like a perfect black body. His pioneering work on the black hole radiation through quantum effects provided one of the first examples of coupling of quantum theory and general relativity. More recently his work, with Perry and Strominger, on understanding the BMS symmetries in gravitational theories is providing new insights into black holes physics.”
Dr. Amer Iqbal

“Stephen Hawking provided unique insights into quantum effects near a black hole. He was the first to realize that black holes are not completely black and can radiate energy acting like a perfect black body. His pioneering work on the black hole radiation through quantum effects provided one of the first examples of coupling of quantum theory and general relativity. More recently his work, with Perry and Strominger, on understanding the BMS symmetries in gravitational theories is providing new insights into black holes physics.”
Dr. Amer Iqbal

“Stephen Hawking provided unique insights into quantum effects near a black hole. He was the first to realize that black holes are not completely black and can radiate energy acting like a perfect black body. His pioneering work on the black hole radiation through quantum effects provided one of the first examples of coupling of quantum theory and general relativity. More recently his work, with Perry and Strominger, on understanding the BMS symmetries in gravitational theories is providing new insights into black holes physics.”
Dr. Amer Iqbal

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"Stephen Hawking was the rare famous scientist who deserved every bit of his fame. A brilliant physicist and an inspirational person. And quite a character." Sean Carroll

"Stephen Hawking was the rare famous scientist who deserved every bit of his fame. A brilliant physicist and an inspirational person. And quite a character." Sean Carroll

"Stephen Hawking was the rare famous scientist who deserved every bit of his fame. A brilliant physicist and an inspirational person. And quite a character." Sean Carroll

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"A star just went out in the cosmos. We have lost an amazing human being. Stephen Hawking fought and tamed the cosmos bravely for 76 years and taught us all something important about what it truly means to celebrate about being human. I will miss him". Lawrence M. Krauss

"A star just went out in the cosmos. We have lost an amazing human being. Stephen Hawking fought and tamed the cosmos bravely for 76 years and taught us all something important about what it truly means to celebrate about being human. I will miss him". Lawrence M. Krauss

"A star just went out in the cosmos. We have lost an amazing human being. Stephen Hawking fought and tamed the cosmos bravely for 76 years and taught us all something important about what it truly means to celebrate about being human. I will miss him". Lawrence M. Krauss

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"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of space time that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018." Neil deGrasse Tyson

"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of space time that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018." Neil deGrasse Tyson

"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of space time that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018." Neil deGrasse Tyson

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"The world has lost a beautiful mind and a brilliant scientist. RIP Stephen Hawking" Sundar Pichai

"The world has lost a beautiful mind and a brilliant scientist. RIP Stephen Hawking" Sundar Pichai

"The world has lost a beautiful mind and a brilliant scientist. RIP Stephen Hawking" Sundar Pichai

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"Genius is so fine and rare. Goodbye Professor Hawking. You inspired and taught us all." Chris Hadfield

"Genius is so fine and rare. Goodbye Professor Hawking. You inspired and taught us all." Chris Hadfield

"Genius is so fine and rare. Goodbye Professor Hawking. You inspired and taught us all." Chris Hadfield

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"Sad to hear about Stephen Hawking. What a remarkable life. His contributions to science will be used as long as there are scientists, and there are many more scientists because of him. He spoke about the value and fragility of human life and civilization and greatly enhanced both." Prof. Brian Cox

"Sad to hear about Stephen Hawking. What a remarkable life. His contributions to science will be used as long as there are scientists, and there are many more scientists because of him. He spoke about the value and fragility of human life and civilization and greatly enhanced both." Prof. Brian Cox

"Sad to hear about Stephen Hawking. What a remarkable life. His contributions to science will be used as long as there are scientists, and there are many more scientists because of him. He spoke about the value and fragility of human life and civilization and greatly enhanced both." Prof. Brian Cox

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“What was unique about him was that he had a marvelous ability to see through all the clutter in physics and to see what the central points are.”
Prof. James Hartle

“What was unique about him was that he had a marvelous ability to see through all the clutter in physics and to see what the central points are.”
Prof. James Hartle

“What was unique about him was that he had a marvelous ability to see through all the clutter in physics and to see what the central points are.”
Prof. James Hartle

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Hawking was a brilliant physicist, but he was also so much more than that. He was socially active and was a great supporter of NHS and disability rights, which added more and much-needed spotlight on the matter. He published books for the lay readers, had a good sense of humor and kept himself relevant by making appearances in mainstream media and making cameos in shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Simpsons. His contributions towards scientific outreach inspired a generation of young scientists and science students, including me and many of my peers.

Sadly, Hawking passed away today, but he lived a good life. He was diagnosed with motor neuron diseases when he a Ph.D. student in his early 20s and the doctors told him he would have 2 years to live. He died today at the age of 76, beating their prediction by about five decades. Hawking was born on the day Galileo Galilei died and he passed away on the day Albert Einstein was born on, but Hawking was his own person and an established scientist and won’t be remembered just by these poetic relations. Hawking’s legacy will continue to live on through the work he has done. In the future, perhaps we will talk about another brilliant physicist who shared their birthday with the brilliant Physicist and Cosmologist, Stephen William Hawking.

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Abdul holds a BSc (Hons) in Theoretical Physics from Swansea University and is currently a Postgraduate student in Cosmology, at the University of Sussex. Outside of Cosmology, he is interested in Philosophy in general and Philosophy of physics and religion in particular.
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