Stephen Hawking: Global tributes for ‘true genius’
Tributes have been pouring in to Stephen Hawking, the globally-renowned scientist who has died at the age of 76.
Hawking was the best-known theoretical physicist of a generation and his book, A Brief History of Time, sold successfully around the world.
Politician, academics and celebrities have all paid their respects to the man who, at the age of 22, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given only a few years to live.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, in a tweet, said that Hawking “was a brilliant and extraordinary mind… His courage, humour and determination to get the most from life was an inspiration. His legacy will not be forgotten."
Hawking died in Cambridge, where he was a professor of mathematics and did much of his work. In a statement on its website, the university said he “broke new ground on the basic laws which govern the universe".
He also worked to explain complex scientific ideas to a wider audience and did it despite his decades-long battle with illness. “His determination in battling with his condition made him a champion for those with a disability around the world,” the university wrote.
University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope said Hawking was “an inspiration to millions”. “His exceptional contributions to scientific knowledge and the popularisation of science and mathematics have left an indelible legacy.”
Katherine Mathieson, chief executive of the British Science Association, said Hawking was a “true genius” who connected with ordinary people. “He simplified and explained, but without gimmicks. His assumption that people are curious about the universe and black holes was true. He inspired us all to wonder.”
NASA, in a tweet, said that Hawking’s theories “unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring”. “May you keep flying like superman in microgravity,” it wrote, likely referring to the occasion in 2007 when Hawking experienced zero gravity in a flight from the Kennedy Space Centre.
(Image: Tweet posted by European Space Agency)
Eddie Redmayne, who played Hawking in The Theory of Everything, a 2014 film on his life, said in a statement: "We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”
And the cast of US TV comedy hit The Big Bang Theory, which often referenced Hawking and in which he had appeared on several occasions, paid their respects to him in a tweet.