Stephen Hawking Dead; updates: Physicist had warned that humans would have to leave Earth in 100 years

Physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, known for his work on black holes and gravity, has died aged 76, a spokesperson for the family has said.

Stephen Hawking dead latest updates:

Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking, whose mental genius and physical disability made him a household name and inspiration across the globe, has died at age 76, his family said Wednesday. Hawking, whose 1988 book "A Brief History of Time" became an unlikely worldwide bestseller and cemented his superstar status, dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe.

His genius and wit won over fans from far beyond the rarified world of astrophysics.

File image of Stephen Hawking. Reuters

File image of Stephen Hawking. Reuters

Both physicists and astrophysicists claimed him as their own. And much of Hawking's work was in the field of cosmology, a deep-thinking branch of astronomy that tries to explain the totality of the universe. Hawking's title "is not relevant here; what matters is what his brain did," said Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium. "We claim him as an astrophysicist because his laboratory was the universe."

He died peacefully at his home in the British university city of Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

"We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today," professor Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim said in a statement carried by Britain's Press Association news agency. "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years."

Hawking defied predictions he would only live for a few years after developing a form of motor neurone disease in 1964 at the age of 22. The illness gradually robbed him of mobility, leaving him confined to a wheelchair, almost completely paralysed and unable to speak except through his trademark voice synthesiser.

"His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world," the family said. "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."

A titan of science

Born on 8 January, 1942, Stephen William Hawking became one of the world's most well-regarded scientists, earning comparisons with Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton.

His work focused on bringing together relativity — the nature of space and time — and quantum theory — how the smallest particles in the Universe behave — to explain the creation of the Universe and how it is governed.

In 1974, he became one of the youngest fellows of Britain's most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, at the age of 32. In 1979 he was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, where he had moved from Oxford University to study theoretical astronomy and cosmology. Newton was a previous holder of that prestigious post.

Inside the shell of his increasingly useless body was a razor-sharp mind, fascinated by the nature of the Universe, how it was formed and how it might end.

"My goal is simple," he once said. "It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."

With inputs from AFP

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  • Prof Pankaj Joshi professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research reacts to Stephen Hawking's death

    I have met many scientists, but Hawking was the sharpest mind I ever met. In my seminar at Cambridge, as soon as I stated speaking on my theorem, he made
    a sudden, penetrating query: "How do I believe this?". I explained the logic and he said, "Ah, that is the point."

    Hawking's greatest contribution was on Cosmology and black hole physics. Together with Roger Penrose and Robert Geroch, he gave detailed theorems in the late 1960s and early 1970s, to show that Space-time Singularities must occur when massive stars in the Universe collapse at the end of their life cycles, and in Cosmology, at the beginning of the Universe. Such singularities are so to say the boundaries of the Universe, where all physical quantities such as densities, temperatures and others blow up and diverge.

    Further, Roger Penrose proposed in 1969, that such  singularities of star collapse must be hidden within black holes or the event horizons of gravity, and this gave rise to the massive science of black holes, and their astrophysical applications, as we know it.

    We have had a great scientific engagement over past many years and decades. Hawking was a strong believer that the singularities of star collapse must be hidden necessarily within black holes. The work from our own group in India, and many other groups internationally showed that we can also have Naked Singularities, not hidden within black holes. Finally, a few years ago, Hawking accepted that in fact.

    He was an extraordinary human being. I spent several months with him in Cambridge, in 1983, and then met him many times after.

  • 12:53 (IST)

    Hawking the gambler

    Stephen Hawking was a terrible gambler while making scientific predictions. In 1975, he bet with Kip Thorne that black holes did not exist and the wager was one year's subscription of the adult `Penthouse` magazine. There is no prize in guessing who won that bet as Kip Thorne won the 2017 Nobel prize in Physics
    for his contributions to the discovery of gravitational waves.

    Two decades ago, Hawking again argued that black holes swallow all information forever and made a wager with Thorne and Preskill. He conceded the bet in a conference in Dublin in July 2004.

    Hawking made another bet in 2000 and argued that the Gold particle (Higgs Boson) would never be found. The LHC collaboration discovered the Higgs Boson in 2012.

    In 2014, Hawking claimed victory on a wager about Cosmic inflation with Professor Turok after hearing about  the discovery of primordial gravitational waves, 
    announced by the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. Unfortunately, this discovery turned out  to incorrect due to various technical complications.

    We hope that his recent bet of 2010 also remains wrong. In this bet he stated that Aliens, when we eventually discover them, would likely be hostile.

    -TIFR professor A Gopakumar

  • Gautam Mandal, professor of theoretical physics, TIFR remembers Hawking's time in India

    Gautam Mandal, professor of theoretical physics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai said,"Multiple generations will mourn the passing away of Stephen Hawking today, which in itself says a lot. Hawking’s life as a person in general and his work in particular have been hugely inspirational to a lot of people around the world. I, and my colleagues in the physics community, have been inspired by his work since 1974, when he pointed out a possible conflict between the two pillars of modern science — quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. He showed the inconsistency in the two theories mathematically, which later came to be known as the Hawking’s Paradox. This has been a challenge for scientists since 1974, and we still do not have a resolution for it."

    "Every once in a while, it seems like somebody has found a solution, but it always turns out to be a false alarm. He was a man who encouraged actively any effort to resolve it, but now after his demise, there will be no one to say with authority if it actually has been resolved, in case someone make a claim. Personally, I have spoken to Dr Hawking at dinners and various other occasions through the years. I found that he was a man of amazing vitality and he had a strong British sense of humour. The fact that he continued with his academic work though his advancing years and even after his health deteriorated, says a lot," he added.

    Speaking of the time Hawking was in India, he said, "There is international conference on string theory that happens every year around the world, and in 2001, it was held in India. Hawking, who was already a world renowned celebrity, visited TIFR then, and because of him, the conference got a lot more coverage than I normally would in the Indian press. I was part of the programme committee, so I got to witness his jovial, non-serious side first-hand. By the time he arrived, everyone was already waiting for him. I did meet him after that too, but his health had taken a serious toll on him. But he still kept writing amazing papers."

  • 11:40 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking's publications

    Stephen Hawking was a prolific author with a knack for making books on challenging scientific topics engaging to a wide spectrum of readers. The physicist is best known for his best-selling 1988 classic "A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes," which was intended to help people without a strong scientific background understand key questions of physics and human existence.

    Among his other books are:

    — "George and the Unbreakable Code" and other stories: Written by Hawking and his daughter, Lucy, this was a series of illustrated children's books to explain "secret keys to the universe" to younger readers. The books deal with complex topics including the Big Bang.

    — "My Brief History": A very personal memoir published in 2013 in which Hawking deals among other things with his childhood, his evolution as a thinker and scientist, the impact of his ALS diagnosis when he was 21 and the ways in which the prospect of an early death affected his work.

    — "The Grand Design": Hawking said this 2010 book co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow was intended to address important unanswered questions such as why there is a universe and whether the universe needed a creator and designer. Hawking said his thinking had been influenced by significant advancements in physics that had followed publication of "A Brief History of Time."

    AP

  • 11:35 (IST)

    Quotations from Stephen Hawking

    Stephen Hawking possessed an uncanny ability to come up with memorable phrases and sayings that summed up his world view:

    — "We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special."

    — "Life would be tragic if it weren't funny."

    — "My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."

    — "I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful."

    — "If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans."

    AP

  • 11:22 (IST)

    'His passing has left an intellectual vacuum,' tweeted noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • Former ISRO chairman Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan on Stephen Hawking

    "This is a great loss to the scientific community. I have met Dr Hawking a couple of times; I remember very fondly attending some of his absolutely brilliant lectures on the evolution of the universe and its structure. Personally, I had the great privilege of meeting Dr Hawking on a visit to the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City along with Dr CNR Rao. Dr Rao, Dr Hawking and I were clubbed in one group on that tour, and we took several rounds of the beautiful structures in the historical city," said former ISRO chairman Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan.

    "Hawking spent a lot of time going through the details of Michelangelo’s work and all other paintings that we could see. Hawking was just lost in the amazing work done by Michelangelo — you could see it in his face even though he is usually not expressive. He sometimes looks a little asleep but that day, you could tell he was so engrossed in everything around him! The fact that the city is the epicentre of Christianity in the world mattered little — Hawking has a lot of faith in human values and that’s all that matters," he added.

  • 11:14 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking’s pioneering work made our world a better place, says Narendra Modi

  • 11:14 (IST)

    NASA remembers Stephen Hawking

  • 11:06 (IST)

    Humans must leave Earth in 100 years, colonise another planet to survive: Stephen Hawking

    Humans will need to colonise another planet within the next 100 years to survive climate change, asteroid strikes and overpopulation, Stephen Hawking had said.

    In a documentary, Expedition New Earth — part of the BBC's new science season Tomorrow's World — Hawking and his former student Christophe Galfard travelled the world to find out how humans could survive in outer space.

    Click here to read more

  • 10:53 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking also appeared on TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory

  • 10:52 (IST)

    “Stephen Hawking’s integrity and scientific dedication place him above pure brilliance,” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told BBC

  • 10:50 (IST)

    A look at Stephen Hawking's life's work

    "I am quite often asked: how do you feel about having ALS?" he once wrote. "The answer is, not a lot.

    "I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many."

    Stephen William Hawking, though, was far from normal.

    Inside the shell of his increasingly useless body was a razor-sharp mind, fascinated by the nature of the Universe, how it was formed and how it might end.

    Click here to read more

  • 10:45 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking's appearance in The Simpsons

  • 10:43 (IST)

    Both physicists and astrophysicists claimed Stephen Hawking as their own

    Stephen Hawking, who was born 300 years to the day after Galileo died, was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. It was the same post that Isaac Newton held. Both physicists and astrophysicists claimed him as their own. And much of Hawking's work was in the field of cosmology, a deep-thinking branch of astronomy that tries to explain the totality of the universe.

    Hawking's title "is not relevant here; what matters is what his brain did," said Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium. "We claim him as an astrophysicist because his laboratory was the universe."

    AP

  • 10:36 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking spoke with satirist John Oliver in 2014

  • 10:29 (IST)

    Few could comprehend Stephen Hawking's brilliant work

    Everyone knew of Stephen Hawking's cosmic brilliance, but few could comprehend it. Not even top-notch astronomers.

    In some ways, Hawking was the inheritor of Albert Einstein's mantle of the genius-as-celebrity.

    "His contribution is to engage the public in a way that maybe hasn't happened since Einstein," said prominent astronomer Wendy Freedman, director of the Carnegie Observatories. "He's become an icon for a mind that is beyond ordinary mortals. ... People don't exactly understand what he's saying, but they know he's brilliant. There's perhaps a human element of his struggle that makes people stop and pay attention."

    AP

  • 10:17 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking first earned prominence for work on black holes

    Hawking first earned prominence for his theoretical work on black holes. Disproving the belief that black holes are so dense that nothing could escape their gravitational pull, he showed that black holes leak a tiny bit of light and other types of radiation, now known as "Hawking radiation."

    "It came as a complete surprise," said Gary Horowitz, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "It really was quite revolutionary."

    Horowitz said the find helped move scientists one step closer to cracking the unified theory.

    AP

  • 10:05 (IST)

    A life represented in cinema

    Stephen Hawking first married Jane Wilde in 1965 and had three children. The couple split after 25 years and he married his former nurse, Elaine Mason, but the union broke down amid allegations, denied by him, of abuse.

    The love story between Hawking and Wilde was retold in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, which won Britain's Eddie Redmayne the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of the scientist. The Oscar triumph was celebrated by Hawking, who has reportedly said there were moments watching the film when he thought he was watching himself.

    He was also the subject of a 2013 documentary, Hawking, in which he reflected on his life: "Because every day could be my last, I have the desire to make the most of each and every minute."

    AFP

  • 10:02 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking was a prolific writer

    Stephen Hawking's genius brought him global fame and he become known as a witty communicator dedicated to bringing science to a wider audience.

    His 1988 book "A Brief History of Time" sought to explain to non-scientists the fundamental theories of the universe and it became an international bestseller, bringing him global acclaim. It was followed in 2001 by "The Universe in a Nutshell".

    In 2007, Hawking published a children's book, "George's Secret Key to the Universe", with his daughter, Lucy, seeking to explain the workings of the solar system, asteroids, his pet subject of black holes and other celestial bodies.

    AFP

  • 09:59 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking went on a weightless flight aged 65

    Hawking put Newton's gravitational theories to the test in 2007 when, aged 65, he went on a weightless flight in the United States as a prelude to a hoped-for sub-orbital spaceflight.

    Characteristically, he did not see the trip as a mere birthday present. Instead, he said he wanted to show that disability was no bar to achievement and to encourage interest in space, where he believed humankind's destiny lay.

    "I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go into space," he said. "I believe life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers."

  • 09:56 (IST)

    TIFR professor A Gopakumar reacts to Stephen Hawking's death

    "I am just a small fish in the ocean of physicists around the world but this news comes as a shock to the entire scientific community. The work he did in both classical and quantum areas of physics is unparalleled, and his connect with the lay person was also phenomenal. This legacy will live on, long after this piece of news fades away from the news," said Professor A Gopakumar from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai a gravitational-wave astrophysicist.

  • 09:50 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking's most famous book was A Brief History of Time

    A Brief History of Time sold out its first US printing in a matter of days, became a bestseller around the world, was translated into more than 35 languages, and went on to sell more than 10 million copies, according to The Guardian. It continues to make generations of readers aware of the ongoing quest to come up with the Grand Unified Theory of Everything.

  • 09:46 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking had a simple goal: A complete understanding of the universe

    Inside the shell of his increasingly useless body was a razor-sharp mind, fascinated by the nature of the Universe, how it was formed and how it might end.

    "My goal is simple," he once said. "It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."

    Much of that work centred on bringing together relativity — the nature of space and time — and quantum theory — how the smallest particles in the Universe behave — to explain the creation of the Universe and how it is governed.

  • 09:42 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking suffered from a form of motor neurone disease

    Stephen Hawking defied predictions he would only live for a few years after developing a form of motor neurone disease that left him confined to a wheelchair.

    "His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world," the family said. "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."

  • 09:40 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking worked on the basic laws governing the universe and garnered many awards for his work

    Stephen Hawking worked on the basic laws which govern the universe. With Roger Penrose he showed that Einstein's general theory of relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes, according to his website. These results indicated that it was necessary to unify general relativity with quantum theory, the other great scientific development of the first half of the 20th century.

    He was a recipient of thirteen honorary degrees. He was awarded CBE (1982), Companion of Honour (1989) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009). He is the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes, most notably the Fundamental Physics prize (2013), Copley Medal (2006) and the Wolf Foundation prize (1988).

  • 09:30 (IST)

    Hawking renowned for work on black holes

    The physicist and cosmologist also authored the book A Brief History of Time, and was known for his ground-breaking work regarding black holes and relativity.

  • 09:28 (IST)

    Stephen Hawking dead, announce children in a statement

    Hawking's children — Lucy, Robert and Tim — said in a statement: "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years."


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