I’m a young boy, visiting my Grandma Betty during the 1970’s. On occasions when I was well-behaved during the week, she treated me with a visit to the Museum of Science in Boston. She would let me visit all the exhibits, while she sat down on a chair near the East Wing and knitted.
One of the things I remembered distinctly about the Museum of Science was that, in the entranceway, carved into the building’s marble walls, were the names of great scientists and astronomers. Galileo. Newton. Curie.
My young mind wondered if I would live on this earth long enough to see a scientist in my lifetime change the world in such a way that he or she would, someday, also be branded into this scientific hall of remembrance.
And if anyone deserves to be considered for this honor… let it be the great Stephen Hawking.
Stephen Hawking passed away last night at the age of 76. He was an author, a theorist, a physicist, a true genius. He explained theories and sciences in amazing, fascinating ways. His book A Brief History of Time dominated the New York Times best seller list for over a decade.
He made science cool and fun and relatable.
And think about this for a second – he gave us these fantastic moments, even as he suffered from a motor neuron condition that paralyzed his body and restricted his communications to a voice-synthesizer computer. How powerful his mind was – that he not only lived for fifty years with this disease – he actually outlived at least one of his voice synthesizer computers.
In other words … you couldn’t stop Stephen Hawking. There was no way to do it.
Hawking also had a great sense of humor. He would appear on several television shows, both in reverence and in comedy.
I feel like sharing a few today. Let’s start with this appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Don’t ever play poker with Stephen Hawking.
Hawking also made several appearances on the comedy show The Big Bang Theory, including this classic scene where Dr. Sheldon Cooper finally gets to present his quantum theorem paper to Hawking … Hawking’s response is hilarious.
And, of course, what Stephen Hawking clipfest would be complete without at least one hilarious symposium rickroll?
Jokes are one thing … inspiration is another.
In 2012, Hawking gave a stirring and inspirational speech at the Paralympics in London. Here’s a clip.
Inspiration and knowledge that has been honored by Presidents…
And the Papacy…
And if there are any words to share on science, on humanity, on the briefness of time and the wonder of it all … let it come directly from Mr. Hawking himself.
Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking. Thank you for everything you’ve given us. Thank you for the brilliant, wonderful, inspirational mind that can never be silenced. You have inspired generations with your work and with your dignity.
And I hope that the next time I visit the Museum of Science in Boston…
I sincerely hope that your name is enscribed upon that marble wall of famous and legendary scientists.