Stephen Hawking had been an extraordinary individual. His death at the age of 76 closed the story of his life which can be described as colorful. Thanks to the film The Theory of Everything, people have gotten to know more about this brilliant man.
Hawking was attracted to the sciences and it can be surmised he had been very inquisitive, always delving deeper in wherever he set his mind into. He had displayed his intellectual prowess as a student, talking about the universe and the nature of Black Holes. He dared to know how the universe came to exist. He answered all these questions in his many works, particularly his book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. At one point in his book, he explained in the simplest possible terms a scientific theory:
“The discovery of a complete unified theory, therefore, may not aid the survival of our species. It may not even affect our life-style. But ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.”
What can be surmised here that despite his brilliance, he tried to go down the level of simple folk rather than preach from “on high.” As a result, A Brief History sold over 10 million copies worldwide, a testament of how people have been able to grasp his ideas.
But his intellectual acumen was not the only thing extraordinary about him. He was afflicted by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease that impaired his body’s ability to function to the point he could no longer move it. Later on, he also lost his ability to speak as well. Despite these afflictions, his mind was not affected. Instead of wallowing in despair over his condition, he found ways to get around it by using a specially-equipped wheelchair that allows him to “speak” through a synthesizer. Through technology, he was able to express his ideas to many people. Furthermore, he had shown that he never allowed his disability to keep him from attaining his goals.
Through the film The Theory of Everything, we see that Hawking had a love life. We tend to stereotype “nerds” like him as not sociable or socially awkward, preferring to devote more time to books. Yet we have seen that he was able to have a relationship and eventually get married. His wife Jane stood by him through good and bad, most especially during his affliction. She demonstrated such patience and perseverance in the face of adversity. From their union, they had children who are proud of their father and loved him despite the state he was in.
Stephen Hawking is now in the company of scientific greats such as Archimedes, Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon and Albert Einstein who have passed on. He has gone to the beyond he had once wondered and understood. Although we mourn his passing, let us remember how he lived and what legacy he imparted.
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