A great man. His legacy, and ideas will not be soon forgotten.
His Brief history of time got me into CPT theory, and superstrings.
Physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. Hawking’s children Lucy, Robert and Tim issued a statement on Wednesday, March 14th, in which they 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. …
You don't need to know either to understand Hawking's famous equation, S = A [πkc3/2hG]
The amazing thing about his equation for black holes is that the entropy is simply equal to the surface area multiplied by a little bag of fundamental constants - gravity, Planck, Boltzmann, c, pi and the number 2.
There's nothing in it that has not been part of physics for well over 100 years. Entropy first emerged out of early steam engine and gas engine theory. His equation links Newton to black holes, and yet, except for the c-cubed term which is just a constant, it makes no use of calculus or raising numbers to a power.
Fortunately the wikipedia entry has been edited for "Pi Day" to include a non-US centric definition, so we may all celebrate Pi day! Huzzah!
"Note that for those counties in which 3/14 is not in US-centric MM/DD format, one may appeal to ISO8601 - "Date and time format" for a more internationally-inclusive definition: one may take the four least-significant-digits of a date in ISO8601-format: e.g. 2017-03-14 gives one 03-14."
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"And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants." Bernard of Chartres, whom Newton paraphrased in his famous quote from a letter to Robert Hooke - seems more appropriate here.
RIP, Stephen. A giant for future generations...
And in the hands of Little Britain, a Stephen Hawking twist...
There is a good rundown of Stephen Hawking's various cameos on the BBC:
Sad to hear this. Even though you know he's come of age and due to his disease he's obviously more fragile than others this news still shocked me.
One thing though... From the article: "However, the disease progressed more slowly than predicted and married, kept working and became a titan of both hard and popular science.. Hawking's disease got married?
I'd like to think that he would laugh if he read this silly typoe :)
Don't waste your time looking for mediocrity, it will find you soon enough.
Unfortunately, the world has now lost a brilliant mind, the light of which sent the darkness of ignorance scurrying away like cockroaches.
We will have to wait a long time before another such light will shine, and Humanity will be poorer in the mean time.
Now I'm just going to go curl up in a ball in a dark room.
I'm of the opinion that the average effective IQ of this species just dropped by a statistically significant amount :(
Have an upvote as that's sadly likely to be very true.
RIP Great Man.
Appearing in Monty Python (posted because I needed to smile today in his memory).
You take an Obit and try to make it political.
While he lost in the genetic lottery and had ALS, the NHS had nothing to do with his long life suffering from ALS.
There were a lot of factors that helped him have a longer life. A lot of it goes to his genetics and his mental fortitude. (Hawkings lived as long as he did because he's Hawkings.)
> You take an Obit and try to make it political.
What a strange reaction.
I don't think anyone was trying to make anything political; given Hawking's determined and enthusiastic support for the NHS it seems entirely appropriate to mention it in this context - I certainly don't think he or his family would disapprove.
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Is it really a tribute to the NHS, that they do a fantastic job with such an exceptional individual? Private medicine would surely have done the same if called upon to do so.
Yes, he was a brilliant showcase, just as he was a brilliant mind. But the NHS's supposed mission is diametrically opposite to that: it was to care for everyone at their time of need. And in that it's demonstrably failing: in some cases, worse than useless. As in my late mother's case, where the promise of a life-saving cancer operation on a constant week-from-now timescale gave us a false sense of optimism. Without that NHS promise, we could have gone elsewhere four months earlier, and she might be alive and well today.
"As in my late mother's case, where the promise of a life-saving cancer operation on a constant week-from-now timescale gave us a false sense of optimism. Without that NHS promise, we could have gone elsewhere four months earlier, and she might be alive and well today"
If she could of afforded it
Interesting question is whether a 22 grad student with a pre-existing condition could of got or afforded the treatment he received on the NHS. Are their Hawking's in the parts of the world where medicine is rolled out only to those who can afford it, dying untimely and unnecessarily deaths before they have a chance to reach their full potential?
"Private medicine would surely have done the same if called upon to do so."
A professor's salary doesn't stretch very far. And if he'd had to rely on private insurance, or a much diminished public health service, where healthcare was doled out in accordance with ability to pay, rather than need, then perhaps he would never have been able to contribute so significantly to human society.
"A professor's salary doesn't stretch very far. And if he'd had to rely on private insurance, or a much diminished public health service, where healthcare was doled out in accordance with ability to pay, rather than need, then perhaps he would never have been able to contribute so significantly to human society."
At least that parses as English, unlike the utterly illiterate A/C whose post immediately follows mine.
A professor's salary stretches further than many. Though not, I imagine, so far as to cover his lifetime costs.
But more to the point, his extraordinarily-deep-pocketed employer would surely have sponsored his care. If not for completely altruistic reasons, then for showcase reasons, exactly the same as the NHS.
I speak as someone who is not rich (I'm still renting a home in my mid-50s), yet contributed a five-figure sum towards my mother's operation. I'd have considered that well-spent if she'd made a recovery (she was round about contemporary with Hawking). The reality for a family without Hawking's distinction is that the NHS prevented that by stringing us along with empty promises.
While I can emphasise on your point of the NHS stringing you along with empty promises (a bad experience myself) the reality is that private medicine is much, much worse than this. Hey, we think we can help you out. We'll just do this operation.....several ££££ later.......well that didn't work, but we understand why. Let's try this (which turns out to be pretty much the same thing with a slightly different dose) ..... more ££££££...... and so on.
The fundamental difference is private health care is a business, and while individual practitioners may have your interests at heart, as a whole their entire purpose is to make money. In theory, public health care is there purely to make people better.
I say in theory, because in reality, public health care's purpose is increasingly to do the job while spending as little money as possible. Of course, money doesn't grow on trees and I would prefer them to say as early as possible that they don't have the funding and you should go private, but I speak as someone who can afford private health care. Public health care is there to ensure that those who can't afford it still get the basic right to health care. This is a basic right and should be defended.
>We'll just do this operation.....several ££££ later.......
Missed a step! We'll just do a few tests and some exploratory procedures - you can easily waste 6+ months at this stage (I know as I've been there).
>public health care's purpose is increasingly to do the job while spending as little money as possible.
Agree, however this can bring benefits: looks like you have the standard stress-related gastrointestinal problems that go with many professional jobs that should of been resolved by the private consultant, I'll prescribe the usual cure - circa £26 prescription cost, come back in 2 weeks if you still have problems and then we'll do a more thorough investigation. Needless to say I had no cause to go back...
Public health care is there to ensure that those who can't afford it still get the basic right to health care.
Yes, but that simply doesn't happen with the NHS. It's a complete lottery if you can get into the system and get decent care when you need it, or get left to your fate.
I've had a serious medical scare twice in my life. The first time (late 2007), I couldn't even get a GP appointment, let alone hospital care. The second time (March 2014) I had very similar symptoms, they jumped into action, diagnosed my symptoms as a minor stroke, diagnosed an underlying heart condition, and put me on medication.
Why the difference? Lost one, won one lottery to get NHS care.
"His longevity is a tribute to the work of the NHS".
I would like to refine that theory.
I think that his life was made immeasurably better by two factors, firstly, the initial specialist consultants, secondly, but not least, the women in his life, his wives,nurses & carers.
As a man,I pay my humble tributes to all those women that did a tremendous duty, that only they could possibly do over the decades.
R.I.P Stephen HAWKING, your achievements & memory will never radiate away.
A good twenty+ years ago in on of my first IT jobs, the place I was working at decided to name new servers after scientists.
The first two were Einstein and Newton.
The next one, to a mix of both my humour and annoyance was Hawkings with an extra 's'
The world will miss you, Prof, even if the vast majority will have no idea of the detail of your work or any chance of understanding even a fraction of it.
Thank you for your contributions and may you rest in peace.
Hawking wasn't always right, but he did admit it when he was wrong. I recommend the book The Black Hole War for a look into the trenches where Hawking and his adversaries were operating during his productive period in cosmology. I don't claim to understand the concepts, but It documents how science is really done at the higher levels, where us mortals are mere spectators.
Humble my arse. Even before "the book" he was a bit of a celeb. And I think he knew it. His late-80s undergraduate lecture series "A short history of the universe" was packed out with students from all subjects. I've still got the lecture notes somewhere in one of my boxes of crap^W valuable keep-sakes. IIRC it was during one of these lectures that he made a "joke" about what he was going to do with his Nobel Prize money, OSLT. It wasn't very funny and it certainly wasn't humble.
Not to mention his well-known propensity for mowing down people that got in his way on Trinity Street...
When I was just a child, and started hearing about Einstein at school and all that he did for science, I thought to myself 'Imagine being alive while such a genius was around.....' Well, guess what, we have been. Not only a fantastic scientist but great sense of humour and an inspiration for generations to come.
RIP and all the best to his loving family.
I didn't see it in the article, so could the rest of El Reg confirm or deny these ideas I've heard about the man.
1) When he was diagnosed with his disease, didn't he train his body to use less oxygen to prolong his life?
2) When he was diagnosed with his disease, didn't he help develop the computer that he would use to communicate with? Along with the wheelchair?
Amazing man who stuck it to America when some idiot proclaimed that if he had been under the care of the NHS he'd have been dead long ago.
A tragic loss of a brilliant mind and a sharp wit.
When once asked what he thought about fame, his response was "The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away".
Rest in peace Stephen Hawking.
Stephen Hawking : an incredible character that spent his life working within the world of abstract ideas and concepts. His handicap never stopped his brain from evolving, his ideas and those with whom who worked helped changed/improve the contemporary world..
Well done Stephen and thanks for everything.
There ain't half been some clever bastards
(Lucky bleeders, lucky bleeders)
There ain't half been some clever bas-tards.
Einstein can't be classed as witless.
He claimed atoms were the littlest.
When you did a bit of splitting-em-ness
Frightened everybody shitless
There ain't half been some clever bastards.
Now that we've had some,
Let's hope that there's lots more to come.
- Ian Drury
I am genuinely sad at Stephen's passing, he was not only an incredible scientist but an incredible example for us all of how you can overcome adversity and become truly great. He was a unique event in the universe.
If there is an afterlife, he won't be resting in peace, he'll be finding new questions to ask.
I'm sure glad his doctor's prognosis for his motor-neurone disease (i.e. that he would only live 2 years) was wrong. I read 'Brief History' when it came out and still remember the feeling of amazement at how much bigger and more incredible the universe was than my (then) teenage mind had ever imagined.
RIP to a man whose legacy will live on long after our time.
I'm sure there will be an endless debate about Hawking's place in the pantheon of great physicists but I think it is beyond debate that he has had a massive influence in bringing physics (and science in general) into popular culture and we probably have a great many more physicists and scientists working today because of him. Any each one of whom could produce the next great breakthrough in physics or medicine or materials or who-knows-what.
That's a pretty bloody good legacy even beyond his work in theoretical physics.
PS - Everyone knows that 42 is the answer, what Hawking might now know is the question...
Can't believe noone here has consigned him to the Clacks yet ...
To think, many years ago as a young student in the neighbouring Pure Maths department, I would semi-regularly encounter him in the wheelchair with his helpers, without really knowing who he was. My occasional forays into DAMPT revealed a singularity in the building, that may have been his field.
 Department of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics.
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Brilliant mind, and an utter inspiration. I remember reading A Brief History of Time in my teens and being fairly blown away by it, but being slightly annoyed by the references to god throughout it. Hawking changed his mind on this and remove any trace of a god from his universe later on...
GNU Professor Hawking.
Was that in order to be allowed to push his wheelchair around (prior to his onboard computer/microphone being built) you needed to have at least 2 degrees, one of which had to be a PHD, in order to be able to understand and record anything he said.
Science has lost one of its truly great minds. RIP
"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.
I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail.
There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
We will never hear his voice again
In the shadow of Prof. Hawking's remarkable longevity is the not entirely unremarkable longevity of DECtalk which dates back to 1984. That voice was very much part of his character and he would have been perceived rather differently if disposable technology had given him a different voice every few years.
... that "Stephen Hawking crosses event horizon, aged 76" would have been a more apposite nod towards his seminal contribution to our understanding of Black Holes, but there you go. The World is always poorer for the loss of great minds. The fact he achieved so much despite such physical obstacles to overcome is inspirational.
My dear chap, you're losing me here. My original post was meant in the spirit of El Reg and do the British thing of making a quip in questionable taste in the wake of tragic news. Regardless, I'm puzzled why it is you seem to be going out of your way to spike a throwaway joke by picking at the physics? Please tell me that you're not denying that Black Holes actually consume matter? Because I'm certainly not denying that a wonderfully queer part of space/time breaking down at the event horizon is that no observer gets to see that - yet happen it does So what is your point?
Especially to his family.
But also science and the population at large for his succinct, clear and involving popularisation of science. His influence shall be sorely missed.
We need more like him: studying hard & pure science of no immediate monetary value: for this is one of the endeavours that marks a civilisation so that it stands out long after its passing.... His corpus shall contribute to make our civilisation stand out: in the long eons after its passing.
That is what I was wondering!! I seem to remember him mentioning his "unbelief" in several specials I'd watched. I think he only mentioned it in passing so folks wouldn't think he attributed the laws of the universe to anything particularly important, or divine superintendence. I don't agree with him, but that is everyone's right, and the most important one of all.
IIRC he actually ended up buying the company, or at least the technology behind that voice, because newer ones came along and put them out of business, but by then the voice was such a part of his identity he wanted to keep it.
Apparently his real voice (he finally lost the power of speech due to life saving surgery, rather than directly from his disease) was, "a rather cut-glass English one."
Is it possible, could the secret to interstellar travel lie somewhere in his published works, notes on his computer etc?
Someone did suggest that perhaps Hawking entrusted his legacy to other scientists in the field of similar mindset in the hope that others will complete his work, so watch out for papers being released in the next couple of years.
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Today would have been my father's 60'th birthday, if he had lived another 3 years. That was reason enough to be reflective. That Stephen Hawking passed away makes even more so.
Like many "nerdy" children of the 1980's and 1990's, I was enthralled by Hawking's celebrity and it encouraged me to pursue my own career in the sciences. Never mind his disabilities, his ability to think big thoughts and scale them down was more impressive to me. He made the most difficult physics and cosmology accessible to ordinary people, leaving them, if not more well informed (actually more likely baffled), then at least appreciative of the topics, which was in and of itself revolutionary. Einstein was similarly a celebrity scientist in his time, but was known more for his political positions and eccentricities than making high science science understandable. The only other champions of popular "hard science" I can think of are Carl Sagan and Niel Tyson.
Like many other intensely brilliant people (from all backgrounds) he will, regardless of his religious position, live on for eternity in L-Space (whether he likes it or not), just as Sir Terry does.