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Thread: RIP Stephen Hawking

  1. #1
    ======== Timbuk2's Avatar
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    Default RIP Stephen Hawking

    A most extraordinary man.



    Stephen Hawking - who died aged 76 - battled motor neurone disease to become one of the most respected and best-known scientists of his age.

    A man of great humour, he became a popular ambassador for science and was always careful to ensure that the general public had ready access to his work.

    His book A Brief History of Time became an unlikely best-seller although it is unclear how many people actually managed to get to the end of it.

    He appeared in a number of popular TV shows and lent his synthesised voice to various recordings.

    Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford on 8 January 1942. His father, a research biologist, had moved with his mother from London to escape German bombing.

    Hawking grew up in London and St Albans and, after gaining a first-class degree in physics from Oxford, went on to Cambridge for postgraduate research in cosmology.

    As a teenager he had enjoyed horse-riding and rowing but while at Cambridge he was diagnosed with a form of motor neurone disease which was to leave him almost completely paralysed.

    As he was preparing to marry his first wife, Jane, in 1964 his doctors gave him no more than two or three years of life.

    But the disease progressed more slowly than expected. The couple had three children, and in 1988 - although Hawking was by now only able to speak with a voice synthesiser following a tracheotomy - he had completed A Brief History of Time - a layman's guide to cosmology.

    It sold more than 10 million copies, although its author was aware that it was dubbed "the most popular book never read".

    He received honorary degrees, medals, prizes and awards throughout his career and was honoured with a CBE in 1982. He was reportedly offered a knighthood in the 1990s but later revealed he had turned it down over issues with the government's funding for science.

    Hawking discovered the phenomenon which became known as Hawking radiation, where black holes leak energy and fade to nothing. He was renowned for his extraordinary capacity to visualise scientific solutions without calculation or experiment.

    But it was perhaps his "theory of everything", suggesting that the universe evolves according to well-defined laws, that attracted most attention.

    "This complete set of laws can give us the answers to questions like how did the universe begin," he said. "Where is it going and will it have an end? If so, how will it end? If we find the answers to these questions, we really shall know the mind of God."

    Hawking's celebrity status was acknowledged even by The Simpsons - he was depicted drinking at a bar with Homer, suggesting he might steal Homer's idea that the universe is shaped like a doughnut.

    He also appeared as himself in an episode of the BBC comedy series, Red Dwarf and as a hologram of his image in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    The rock group Pink Floyd used his distinctive synthesised voice for the introduction to Keep Talking, on their 1994 album The Division Bell.

    Undeterred by his condition, he continued his work as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, and in 2001, his second book - Universe in a Nutshell - was published.

    He believed his illness brought some benefits; he said before he developed the disease he had been bored with life.

    But his condition inevitably made him dependent on others. He often paid tribute to his wife, who had looked after him for more than 20 years, and friends and relatives were shocked when he left her for one of his nurses, Elaine Mason, whom he married in 1995. The couple later divorced in 2006.

    By 2000, Hawking was a frequent visitor to the emergency department of Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, seeking treatment for a variety of injuries. Police questioned several people about allegations that he had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse over a period of years.

    He was known to be an erratic, almost reckless driver of his electric wheelchair, and Hawking insisted his injuries were not caused by abuse. No action was taken.

    In 2007, he became the first quadriplegic to experience weightlessness on board the so-called "vomit comet", a modified plane specially designed to simulate zero gravity. He said he did it to encourage interest in space travel and booked a seat on Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space plane.

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

    In 2014, the film The Theory of Everything was released, based on Jane Hawking's account of their courtship and marriage. Hawking himself met Eddie Redmayne as part of the actor's preparation for taking on the role of the scientist.

    In a series for the Discovery Channel, he said it was perfectly rational to assume there was intelligent life elsewhere but warned that aliens might just raid earth of its resources and then move on.

    Hawking also predicted the end of humanity from global warming, a large comet or a new virus.

    He collaborated with Russian investor Yuri Milner in 2015 to work on projects to find evidence of alien life.

    He once wrote that he had motor neurone disease for practically all his adult life but said that it had not stopped him having an attractive family and being successful in his work.

    "It shows," he said, "that one need not lose hope."
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    It's actually the original French billion, which is bi-million, which is a million to the power of 2. We adopted the word, and then they changed it, presumably as revenge for Crecy and Agincourt, and then the treasonous Americans adopted the new French usage and spread it all over the world. And now we have to use it.

    And that's Why I'm Voting Leave.

  2. #2
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    RIP a most incredible man with an even more incredible mind.

    He had a large number of funny appearances on the Big Bang Theory and in one episode consoles Sheldon by referencing the fact he had never won the Nobel Prize "but it's ok, I've been on The Simpsons".
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  3. #3
    Endorsing an RC version of himself was by far his best appearance.

    -----

    I don't have much to use, but I setup a minimalist display for him today.

    Click to view the full version
    "In a field where an overlooked bug could cost millions, you want people who will speak their minds, even if they’re sometimes obnoxious about it."

  4. #4
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    LOL I forgot about the RC one that was amusing. Nice little display there.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  5. #5
    This Vicious Cabaret Unheard Of's Avatar
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    Hawking and Sulston gone in one week
    Greetings, citizen! THE COMPUTER has made you a protector of the underground city of ALPHA COMPLEX. You will have lots of fun rooting out Communist mutant traitors. The Computer says so.

  6. #6
    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/22/s...ies-at-68.html

    Just saying. Hawking was bright, but he wasn't unique. And the thing people most attribute to him was first figured out by a more junior scientist who he originally denounced.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  7. #7
    ======== Timbuk2's Avatar
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    I think given all he did with his life, achieving his world-renown, penning best-selling books, despite almost total paralysis, certainly makes him unique.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    It's actually the original French billion, which is bi-million, which is a million to the power of 2. We adopted the word, and then they changed it, presumably as revenge for Crecy and Agincourt, and then the treasonous Americans adopted the new French usage and spread it all over the world. And now we have to use it.

    And that's Why I'm Voting Leave.

  8. #8
    Let sleeping tigers lie Khendraja'aro's Avatar
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    Regarding his "erratic driving", I found the Twitter thread "Oh my God, I almost killed Hawking!" quite amusing.

    https://twitter.com/indyfromspace/st...71489336897536
    When the stars threw down their spears
    And watered heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the lamb make thee?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Timbuk2 View Post
    I think given all he did with his life, achieving his world-renown, penning best-selling books, despite almost total paralysis, certainly makes him unique.
    I meant to say that his intellect wasn't unique. Obviously there aren't any other world-famous physicists with ALS, so sure he's unique. But if he hadn't had ALS, he simply would have been a very bright physicist who made some obscure contributions to cosmology. Even if he had written 'A Brief History of Time' and it had gotten big, I still wouldn't rate him as particularly interesting - for example, I don't think that Carl Sagan, or Neil Degrasse Tyson, or Bill Nye, are anything special as scientists. Does anyone seriously call it 'Hawking Bekenstein radiation'? Of course not! They have only heard of Hawking, even though it was Bekenstein's fundamental insight into black holes that led to Hawking's later work. Fame trumps credit.

    Hawking did some good science, true, and the personal challenges he faced in his life are certainly noteworthy. But he wasn't Newton, or Einstein, or Aristotle. He was just a good physicist who happened to have a life story people found compelling. I don't begrudge him his celebrity - he did indeed have an impressive story. I even applaud his attempt to bring science to the masses (though I doubt anyone really read 'A Brief History' or understood it if they did). But what I find a bit frustrating is that his impressive personal story and media celebrity is conflated with his scientific achievement.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  10. #10
    ======== Timbuk2's Avatar
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    I don't disagree wigs, I have an interest in cosmology and the related physics but my knowledge is utterly layman, so happy to take your word for the extent of Hawking's contribution to the field.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    It's actually the original French billion, which is bi-million, which is a million to the power of 2. We adopted the word, and then they changed it, presumably as revenge for Crecy and Agincourt, and then the treasonous Americans adopted the new French usage and spread it all over the world. And now we have to use it.

    And that's Why I'm Voting Leave.

  11. #11
    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
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    It's getting closer now, the fear that we have held off for so long
    It's getting closer now to where we know there can be no return
    It's makes no sense to me, what has been set in motion here today
    It makes no sense anymore, was it too little, too late? Or too much too fast?

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