The Cambridge University professor and best-selling author, Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76 in his home in England. Many professionals in the field of theoretical physics claim that Hawking has captured the public’s imagination and interest in the world of physics on the same level as Albert Einstein.
Doctor Hawking achieved that accolade through his very popular book; “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes”. In light of the news of his passing, his book has topped the Amazon best seller list. The best seller has now sold more than 10 million copies and was the inspiration for the award-winning film, “The Theory of Everything”.
The scientist also gained popularity amongst pop culture references and appearing in many TV shows. To name a few, Hawking appeared in Red Dwarf, The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Simpsons.
In an interview, Hawking stated that he one day hopes to be remembered for the work he did regarding black holes and the origin of the universe rather than appearing on The Simpsons. The amount of recognition for him and his work is truly the best way that he would’ve liked to be remembered.
What is truly amazing about Hawking is that he was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) while he was still a graduate student in 1963. ALS is a rare form of neuromuscular disease that had become relevant again during the past couple of years from the ice bucket challenge.
During the news of his passing the website for The Motor Neurone Disease Association had crashed due to the incredible influx of donations that the charity was receiving. Hawking was a patron of the charity since 2008.
He was only given a few years to live where the illness left him in a wheelchair and unable to speak. While his physical body was hindered, his mental state only grew to become one of the greatest minds that the world has seen.
In 2007 just a couple of months after his 65th birthday, Hawking took part in the zero-gravity flight that emulates a sense of weightlessness. The padded Boeing 727 has a roller coaster like flight path that lets the people inside experience the closest thing to zero gravity while still being on Earth.
He also wanted this to be the stepping stone, planning on riding on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic experience that takes people even higher. In an interview he was asked why he would risk his health for the experience he replied saying that he wants to encourage the public’s interest in spaceflight as it is a critical future for humanity.
He also stated that people shouldn’t be limited by their physical handicaps. As long as an individual isn’t disabled in spirit they can achieve anything.