‘Hawk­ing’s death... a fall of a gi­ant star’

The Free Press Journal - - WORLD - AGEN­CIES Shang­hai

Mil­lions of Chi­nese mourned Stephen Hawk­ing on Wed­nes­day, bid­ding farewell to a "gi­ant star" ad­mired in China for sto­ically ris­ing above phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity and post­ing heart­felt mes­sages to his Chi­nese fans on so­cial me­dia.

Al­ready well-known in China, the Bri­tish cos­mol­o­gist two years ago fur­ther en­deared him­self to fans in the coun­try when he opened an ac­count on the Twit­ter-like Weibo plat­form, post­ing in both Chi­nese and English.

The ac­count gar­nered one mil­lion fans within its first few hours and now has nearly five mil­lion, with his in­fre­quent posts typ­i­cally gen­er­at­ing tens of thou­sands of ad­mir­ing com­ments and earn­ing him the af­fec­tion­ate nick­name "Hawk­ing Dada", or "Un­cle Hawk­ing."

News of Hawk­ing's death at 76 quickly be­came the top-trend­ing Weibo topic, with the hash­tag #Hawk­ing passed# gen­er­at­ing more than 300 mil­lion reads and nearly 200,000 com­ments within a few hours af­ter his death was an­nounced, re­ports AFP.

Many said his pass­ing was "the fall­ing of a gi­ant star."

"The de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of his body did not trap him. To­day this su­per­hu­man brain has left this world, and his next jour­ney, death, re­mains a mys­tery," one user said. "I hope he has the strength to send us in­for­ma­tion from the next world." An­other user wrote: "Even though I can't un­der­stand Hawk­ing Dada's books... he is the one who knows the se­cret of this world." Most of Hawk­ing's life was spent in a wheel­chair, crip­pled by amy­otrophic lat­eral scle­ro­sis (ALS), a form of mo­tor neu­ron dis­ease. He died at his home in Eng­land to­day, his fam­ily an­nounced, re­ports AP.

Hawk­ing, who had trav­elled to China pre­vi­ously, even vis­it­ing the Great Wall in 2002, posted on Weibo about black holes and other phe­nom­ena, and wrote in one mes­sage that be­ing on China's lead­ing so­cial me­dia plat­form was "a source of great in­spi­ra­tion". One of his more pop­u­lar post­ings was a June 2016 mes­sage of en­cour­age­ment to tens of mil­lions of Chi­nese stu­dents pre­par­ing for an­nual na­tional col­lege-en­trance ex­ams, a stress­ful, make-or-break or­deal that can de­ter­mine one's fu­ture. "Whether you aim to be a doc­tor, teacher, sci­en­tist, mu­si­cian, en­gi­neer, or a writer, be fear­less in the pur­suit of your as­pi­ra­tions. You are the next gen­er­a­tion of big thinkers and thought lead­ers that will shape the fu­ture for gen­er­a­tions to come - SH," he wrote.

Mean­while, China said that the renowned Bri­tish the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cist's con­tri­bu­tion to sci­ence will be re­mem­bered for­ever.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Lu Kang re­called three vis­its made by the 76-year-old Hawk­ing to China dur­ing which he had "joy­ful" ex­changes with the Chi­nese lead­ers and sci­en­tists.

Be­sides show­ing in­ter­est in China's tech­no­log­i­cal progress, Hawk­ing also loved Chi­nese cul­ture and vis­ited the Great Wall, Lu said.



Stephen Hawk­ing re­ceives the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom from US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama dur­ing a cer­e­mony in the East Room at the White House on Au­gust 12, 2009.

2: Stephen Hawk­ing re­ceiv­ing a bou­quet of flow­ers af­ter his lec­ture in Bei­jing.

3: Bri­tish ac­tors Felic­ity Jones (L) and Ed­die Red­mayne (R) pose with Bri­tish sci­en­tist Stephen Hawk­ing (C) at the UK pre­miere of the film 'The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing' in Lon­don. -AFP 1

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