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.

FP Staff March 14, 2018 11:12:11 IST
Auto refresh feeds
Stephen Hawking Dead; updates: Physicist had warned that humans would have to leave Earth in 100 years


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).


Mar 14, 2018 - 12:55 (IST)

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.

Mar 14, 2018 - 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

Mar 14, 2018 - 12:50 (IST)

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."

Mar 14, 2018 - 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."


Mar 14, 2018 - 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."


Mar 14, 2018 - 11:22 (IST)

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

Mar 14, 2018 - 11:19 (IST)

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.

Mar 14, 2018 - 11:14 (IST)

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

Mar 14, 2018 - 11:14 (IST)

NASA remembers Stephen Hawking

Mar 14, 2018 - 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

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.

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

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

Updated Date:

also read

Maharashtra does U-turn on 'five-level unlock' plan, says no relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown yet

Maharashtra does U-turn on 'five-level unlock' plan, says no relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown yet

The Chief Minister's Office said that the lockdown has not been lifted in the state as COVID-19 has not been controlled completely yet

Maharashtra mulls five-level plan to lift lockdown; full details here

Maharashtra mulls five-level plan to lift lockdown; full details here

The easing of restrictions under the new Maharashtra 'unlock' plan will depend on the weekly COVID-19 positivity rate and status of occupancy of oxygen beds, Maharashtra minister Vijay Wadettiwar had said

PM Modi speech Updates: New guidelines on vaccine policy in two weeks, announces Narendra Modi

PM Modi speech Updates: New guidelines on vaccine policy in two weeks, announces Narendra Modi

PM Modi speech Updates: The prime minister announced that the Centre will now be responsible for procuring COVID-19 vaccines starting from next two weeks. Vaccines will be available free of cost for all above 18 years, while, those who want to pay, can get it at private centres, he said