‘Remember to look up at the stars’: Stephen Hawking’s message for humanity as he dies aged 76
Fellow scientists, celebrities and world leaders have been reacting to the news
World-leading scientist Professor Stephen Hawking has died peacefully at home at the age of 76.
The genius theoretical physicist passed away in Cambridge early this morning, after a long struggle with motor neurone disease, his family said in a statement.
His children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”
The A Brief History of Time author was given just a few years to live after being diagnosed with his condition at the age of 22. But Hawking defied the odds and went on to build a career as one of the world’s most pre-eminent thinkers, developing theories on cosmology, quantum mechanics and black holes.
Here are some of his most profound quotes on humanity, curiosity and his never-ending determination to live:
Cambridge University (2012)
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
The New York Times (2004)
“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”
The Guardian (2011)
“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
And in recent years, the professor became more politically involved, warning about the dangers of Brexit and cuts to NHS funding.
Understandably, the world has been reacting to the tragic news. Cambridge University tweeted a touching quote from the scientist.
Fellow scientist Brian Cox added: “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 civilisation and greatly enhanced both.”
Meanwhile, astrophysicist and TV host Neil deGrasse Tyson said: “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 spacetime that defies measure.”
Comedian Dara Ó Briain added his own memories of the acclaimed scientist:
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Professor Stephen Hawking was a brilliant and extraordinary mind - one of the great scientists of his generation. His courage, humour and determination to get the most from life was an inspiration. His legacy will not be forgotten.”
Jeremy Corbyn added: “Stephen Hawking inspired the world with his determination to explain the mysteries of the cosmos. But he also showed breathtaking courage to overcome life’s adversities and a burning passion to protect our National Health Service. He will be greatly missed.”
BBC Click presenter Spencer Kelly made the very good point: “Anyone else feel really lucky that we got about 50 years more of Stephen Hawking than was originally planned?”
The European Space Agency tweeted a very cool picture of the scientist floating in zero gravity:
The Big Bang Theory tweeted a picture of Hawking with the cast of the science-based sitcom:
And NASA tweeted: “Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science. His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014.”