Stephen Hawking megathread

We were sad to learn that noted physicist, cosmologist, and author [Stephen Hawking]( has passed away. In the spirit of AskScience, we will try to answer questions about Stephen Hawking's work and life, so feel free to ask your questions below. Links: * [BBC]( * [NY Times]( * [Stephen Hawking Foundation]( * [ALS Association]( * [Current Einstein megathread](/r/askscience/comments/84auuc/einstein_birthday_megathread/) for more discussion on general relativity/cosmology.

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14 Mar 2018 13:47 - +6087
He reached a status where you'd think he would never die
14 Mar 2018 13:09 - +3783
Do we know what helped Hawking survive the disease for so long? As far as I know, he was given no more than 2-3 years to live when he was first diagnosed. Is there anything we have learned from his case that could eventually lead to a cure?   (Rest in peace. A Brief History of Time was the book that first sparked my interest in astronomy and physics.)
14 Mar 2018 13:13 - +2053
As someone without much knowledge in physics, how does Hawking stack up against some of the great famous physicists of all time?
14 Mar 2018 13:23 - +1451
What one thing should we remember him for in your opinion?
14 Mar 2018 15:50 - +693
Born on the anniversary of Galileo's death. Died on the anniversary of Einstein's birth. There's something poetic about that.
14 Mar 2018 13:30 - +485
What are some of Hawkins lesser known accomplishments in the science field.
14 Mar 2018 13:28 - +406
Are there an good documentaries out about Hawking's work? In the last decade was he still performing research or was he serving physics in a more ambassadorial role?
14 Mar 2018 13:17 - +299
Would anyone care to give a brief run down of the significance of Hawking’s major contributions to physics and cosmology? What do we know now about the nature of the universe that was directly demonstrated by his work?
14 Mar 2018 13:55 - +267
He just left for a party back in 2009 he will be back later....
14 Mar 2018 14:46 - +256
I read a comment saying that the world is a darker place for losing Hawking today. I say the world is a brighter place for Hawking choosing to be a part of it. He could have checked-out long ago. Instead he fought his disease as best as he could, and probably lived a good thirty years longer than anyone might have guessed he would. So mourn his passing if you must. But if he meant something to you, become a beacon in the darkness---just as he was to so many who might have looked up at the night sky and wondered. The world can be made better by ordinary deeds by ordinary people. This, I'm sure, is something Hawking would have agreed with.
14 Mar 2018 13:35 - +235
Did Hawking have any major unfinished works at the time of his death, or had he already published most of the works relating to his primary fields of research?
14 Mar 2018 14:08 - +197
On behalf of the human race, thank you Mr. Stephen Hawking
14 Mar 2018 13:30 - +168
How active was Hawking in recent months (or years)? What was he most excited about or interested in these days?
14 Mar 2018 13:51 - +73
I read "A Brief History of Time", and 90% of it was stratospherically over my head... But the 10% that took was hugely enlightening. An icon and visionary has merged with the infinite, and I'm grateful for my brief contact with him, no matter how removed.
14 Mar 2018 14:16 - +50
Do we know what his last words were? I know he couldn't talk and stuff, but did he slowly due to the point where he could no longer control the machine that interpreted his words, or do we know what he wanted to say?
14 Mar 2018 13:42 - +45
Can we get a discussion on Hawking Radiation? I've heard that it involves particles tunneling out of the black hole, is that a good way to understand it? How does it relate to black-body radiation? What sort of particles is it?
14 Mar 2018 16:52 - +45
- Stephen Hawking’s 3 favorite songs. “[Symphony Of Psalms]( was in fact the first piece of music Professor Hawking ever purchased. “I first became aware of classical music when I was 15,” he said. “LPs had recently appeared in Britain. I ripped out the mechanism of our old wind-up gramophone and put in a turntable and a three-valve amplifier. I made a speaker cabinet from an old book case, with a sheet of chip-board on the front. The whole system looked pretty crude, but it didn’t sound too bad. At the time LPs were very expensive so I couldn’t afford any of them on a schoolboy budget. But I bought Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms because it was on sale as a 10” LP, which were being phased out. The record was rather scratched, but I fell in love with the third movement, which makes up more than half the symphony.” [Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 1]( Hawking was actually inspired to buy a collection of Wieniawski’s music after hearing his second concerto on Radio 3 in the 1990s, but prefers the first in particular for its “haunting phrase in the first movement”. [Francis Poulenc’s Gloria]( is the final piece in Professor Hawking’s musical trilogy. Part of the work caused a “scandal” – in the French composer’s own words – when it was first performed in 1959 because of its unusual mixture of light-heartedness and spirituality. Poulenc later explained that he had been thinking of frescoes in which angels stick out their tongues and “serious Benedictines whom I saw playing soccer one day” when he wrote it. Professor Hawking first heard the Poulenc Gloria in Aspen, Colorado, during the resort’s 1995 music festival. “You can sit in your office in the physics centre there and hear the music without ever buying a ticket,” he said. “But on this occasion I was actually in the tent to hear the Gloria. It is one of a small number of works I consider great music.”
14 Mar 2018 13:58 - +41
Now he can explore the universe. Hope he finds his answers on the other side.
14 Mar 2018 16:40 - +40
This man performed the most complex mathematical operations known to man entirely in his head due to his inability to use a pencil. As an engineer myself, I can’t possibly comprehend the magnitude of intelligence that requires.
14 Mar 2018 13:29 - +31
The world has lost a brilliant mind. May he rest in peace and may we continue his brilliant work.
14 Mar 2018 13:47 - +26
I honestly just want to know what questions he still had about the universe and it's workings.
14 Mar 2018 13:36 - +25
Will he still be posthumously awarded the Nobel prize in Physics for his work on Hawking radiation? Idk if they give posthumous awards, but the man deserves the accolade for the history books.
14 Mar 2018 16:52 - +24
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got. And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever. And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives. And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Commentator : Aaron Freeman for NPR
14 Mar 2018 13:40 - +21
Hawking predicted the radiation that bears his name, and that black holes essentially evaporate. How do we use this knowledge practically? Is there any Earth-based benefits for knowing it?
14 Mar 2018 15:13 - +20
I was reading about Stephen Hawking last night, and felt inspired to go back to Univeristy. Reading this news has now confirmed this for me. Thank you for contributions, may you rest in peace.
14 Mar 2018 13:54 - +20
What's some quotes from Hawking that really made you think?
14 Mar 2018 16:55 - +18
He died on the Pi day. Rest in peace you amazing being
14 Mar 2018 13:35 - +14
How much work was put into developing his wheelchair, and in terms of technological advancement how ahead of time is it? Also was his death sudden, or was it something that was kept under wraps?
14 Mar 2018 17:29 - +12
Crazy, today 14th of March, Pi day, Stephen Hawking died, also it's Albert Einsteins birthday. Both died at the age of 76.
14 Mar 2018 14:22 - +12
When we teach the next generation of children who never grew up to know Hawking, what should be one thing we should teach them in terms of what Stephen Hawking did in the name of science?
14 Mar 2018 16:22 - +12
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet” - will do professor 👍🏻✨🔭
14 Mar 2018 18:48 - +12
Stood, or rather sat, upon the shoulders of giants Stephen Hawking was not content. He climbed higher, he fought harder, he forged new paths of knowledge where mystery once thrived. He inspired others just as the great physicists before him inspired his dreams. Looking back on in the life of if this great man, he is no longer the child sitting on fathers shoulders, he was hoisting others up and showing them a universe once thought mystical, then proved practical. He has become one with the giants on whise shoulders we all now stand. Perhaps one day, we will be lucky enough to join those ranks. As for me, I am content to have lived in a world that was graced with such an individual as Hawking. There is no replacing, just acceptance and moving forward.
14 Mar 2018 14:08 - +11
Does his death affect any ongoing projects in the physics world ?
14 Mar 2018 17:34 - +10
I was lucky enough to have attended a lecture by professor Hawking at my University back in 2011. This was in Belgium and the courses I was following was only vaguely connected to physics. But it was Hawking! I took place in one of the larger theaters of the university of Leuven and almost as soon as the announcement got made the space in the theater was occupied. They even had to put up screens outside of the university so anyone who was curious could also attend the lecture. I can honestly say it was surreal seeing a turn out for a scientist almost to the equivalent of a turnout to a rockstar. Due to the limitations Hawking had the questions were predetermined and the lecture was written to be accessible to even someone with little scientific background. It wasn't about the information that was being explained, it was about the man. There aren't many scientific celebrities, and he definitely was one. For the struggles he went through he succeeded in living a succesfull and full life. Not only his intelligence is famed, but his wit and sense of humor made him a cultural icon. He'll be missed.
14 Mar 2018 20:11 - +9
My sophomore year of high school, I took chemistry and started to realize it was something I really enjoyed. I had never pinned myself as a particularly outstanding student, but I did very well in this class. Soon, my interests in science expanded to the subject of astronomy and physics. I’d come home after school and spend my time watching documentaries and YouTube videos about the universe and all the mysteries that come with trying to understand our place in it. And someone who always was featured on those shows and videos? Stephen Hawking. That man loved being on this Earth. Everything he said, he conveyed with such clarity and reverence. He knew how to explained his own complicated work to an audience like myself. He made the cosmos feel accessible and exciting. I was learning more at home than at school. What I loved most—every word he used, every perfect thought and idea, so thoughtful and considerate of the human race. He was a true humanitarian, and it was important for me to see someone model such a visceral belief in the worth of human nature. I feel that right now. He has set up a legacy for us; we would be fools not to follow in his path. I am humbled to have existed with Stephen Hawking.
14 Mar 2018 13:42 - +8
We lost a brilliant mind. The cosmos received a brilliant mind.
14 Mar 2018 15:16 - +6
Can anyone say, generally, what his greatest accomplishment was to the human race? Or what he’ll be known for 50 years from now?
14 Mar 2018 15:01 - +5
If only we had advanced enough to resleeve his stack! (Sci-fi, Altered Carbon) This man who showed the humankind to never give up would be the ideal candidate to continue living till he found the answers to all the questions he had and inspire humanity to keep pushing further!

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