back to article Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76

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. …

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  1. fluffybunnyuk

    A great man. His legacy, and ideas will not be soon forgotten.

    His Brief history of time got me into CPT theory, and superstrings.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Hawking's Equation

      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.

  2. cavac

    The world has lost a brilliant mind today :-(

  3. Mayday Silver badge
    Pint

    Vale

    He never quite managed to finish the Warp Drive he said he was working on when he visited the set of Star Trek TNG where he played himself.

    1. Kharkov
      Unhappy

      Re: Vale

      True, he didn’t finish the Warp Drive but you know it’ll be renamed the Hawking Drive...

      Farewell, you who has slipped the bonds of this surly Earth, and may you brighten the stars with your energy.

      He’ll be sadly missed.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Vale

        Thermodynamics tells us that he's not gone, just slightly more disorganised.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Vale

          Exactly my thoughts! Have an upvote.

          And to pass away on a combination of both Pi Day and Einstein's Birthday ..

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The world lost one of the great minds who changed the way we think about the universe, life, and much more. To say he'll be missed is an understatement as there's no telling what he might have done next.

  5. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

    What a guy!

    Hope the new radio continuation of Hitchhikers goes well. He now knows whether 42 is the right answer

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

      well, if you consider that it's also "Pi Day" i.e. 3/14

      Seems appropriate, though.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

        14/3 - Hawking wasn’t American.

        No idea what his opinion on Tau was though...

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

          It is, however, Einstein's 139th birthday.

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

            Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

            Rather than the divisive 3/14 or 14/3, maybe we should denote the date 14*3 or 3*14, which either way equals 42. Seems fitting

            RIP Stephen Hawking

            1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

              Come in number 42, your Time is up

              Rather than the divisive 3/14 or 14/3, maybe we should denote the date 14*3 or 3*14, which either way equals 42. Seems fitting

        2. sawatts

          Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

          2018-03-14 - ISO 8601

          But being pedantic seems inappropriate at this time.

          (why isn't there a "for science" icon?)

        3. MonsieurTM

          Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

          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."

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

            Or just use 22/7.

            1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

              355/113 - let's have some precision around the place!

      2. Kharkov
        Boffin

        Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

        Hmm, do you want to read anything into the fact that 3x14=42?

    2. djstardust Silver badge

      Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

      It's the staff I feel sorry for.

      First Toys R us, Maplins and now Hawkings Bazaar......

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Rest in peace

      Or alternatively, Death might be saying "SO, WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?"

      Although it doesn't sound quite right in a sans-serif font

      1. Voidstorm

        Re: Rest in peace

        Death looked closely at the lifetimer in his hand, which was awkward, as large parts of it kept phasing into other dimensions under scrutiny.

        'HMM', said Death, 'THAT'S PECULIAR... PARTS OF THIS ARE RADIATING AWAY...'

        They both grinned.

        - RIP, Professor Hawking

  7. ratfox Silver badge
    Happy

    However, the disease progressed more slowly than predicted and married, kept working and became a titan of both hard and popular science.

    I like this version; please don't change it!

  8. MrT

    "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton.

    "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...

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton.

      Although that quote takes on a slightly different meaning when you realise that Newton and Hooke hated each other, Hooke thought Newton was a plagiarist, and Hooke was really, really short.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton.

        And in the hands of Little Britain, a Stephen Hawking twist...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC65NkjhkPA

        There is a good rundown of Stephen Hawking's various cameos on the BBC:

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43398899

        1. Sherrie Ludwig

          Re: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton.

          Thank you Roland6 for the BBC cameos. I hadn't seen the one with Brian Cox and I laughed so hard I woke up the cat across the room.

  9. ShelLuser

    Still shocking news :(

    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 :)

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    He had a life when first doctors merely predicted an early death.

    Maybe his most extraordinary achievement.

    Some sort of message for us all in that.

    R.I.P. Dr Hawking.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: He had a life when first doctors merely predicted an early death.

      His longevity is a tribute to the work of the NHS.

      1. Professor Clifton Shallot

        Re: He had a life when first doctors merely predicted an early death.

        I'd like to know which arseholes downvoted that.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: He had a life when first doctors merely predicted an early death.

          "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS," he said. "I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          @ Professor Clifton Shallot

          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.

          1. fobobob

            Re: @ Professor Clifton Shallot

            I'm of the opinion that the average effective IQ of this species just dropped by a statistically significant amount :(

            1. David 18

              Re: @ Professor Clifton Shallot

              "I'm of the opinion that the average effective IQ of this species just dropped by a statistically significant amount :( "

              Could return to yesterday's average if anything unfortunate were ever to happen to Trump.

            2. JimboSmith Silver badge

              Re: @ Professor Clifton Shallot

              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).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ Professor Clifton Shallot

            "Now I'm just going to go curl up in a ball in a dark room."

            This isn't actually about you.

        3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: He had a life when first doctors merely predicted an early death.

          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.)

          1. Dominic Thomas

            Re: He had a life when first doctors merely predicted an early death.

            As Aladdin Sane has already noted, the man himself disagrees: "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS,"

            And FFS you could at least get his name right... No S...

          2. tfb Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: He had a life when first doctors merely predicted an early death.

            Strangely, Hawking (whose name you could at least try to spell properly) disagreed with you, But what would he know?

          3. Professor Clifton Shallot

            Re: He had a life when first doctors merely predicted an early death.

            > 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.

        4. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        "a tribute to the NHS"?

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "a tribute to the NHS"?

          "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?

        2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: "a tribute to the NHS"?

          "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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "a tribute to the NHS"?

            "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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "a tribute to the NHS"?

              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.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "a tribute to the NHS"?

                >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...

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "a tribute to the NHS"?

                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.

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