Na­jib sends con­do­lences

He was di­ag­nosed with mo­tor neu­ron dis­ease in his early 20s and given only few years to live

New Straits Times - - NEWS -

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak has con­veyed his con­do­lences over the death of renowned Bri­tish physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing on Wed­nes­day.

“Sad­dened to hear that one of the world’s great­est minds, Pro­fes­sor Stephen Hawk­ing, has passed away. It is a great loss to the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity, but his legacy will live on for gen­er­a­tions to come. My con­do­lences to his fam­ily,” Na­jib said on Twit­ter.

Hawk­ing, 76, re­port­edly died peace­fully in his sleep at his home in Cam­bridge, north of Lon­don.

Hawk­ing, a leg­endary fig­ure in the mod­ern his­tory of physics, had au­thored sev­eral best­sellers on sci­ence and cos­mol­ogy, in­clud­ing A Brief His­tory of Time, de­spite be­ing wheel­chair-bound af­ter con­tract­ing a mo­tor neu­ron dis­ease in 1963.

He had ap­peared in movies and tele­vi­sion se­ries fea­tur­ing uni­verse-re­lated top­ics broad­cast by both the US Public Broad­cast­ing Ser­vice and the Na­tional Geo­graphic Chan­nel.

BRI­TISH physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing, whose men­tal ge­nius and phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity made him a house­hold name and in­spi­ra­tion across the globe, has died at age 76, his fam­ily said yes­ter­day.

Pro­pelled to su­per­star­dom by his 1988 book, A Brief His­tory of

Time, which be­came an un­likely worldwide best­seller, Hawk­ing ded­i­cated his life to un­lock­ing the se­crets of the uni­verse.

His ge­nius and wit won over fans from far be­yond the world of as­tro­physics, earn­ing com­par­isons with Al­bert Ein­stein and Sir Isaac New­ton.

Hawk­ing died peace­fully at his home in the Bri­tish univer­sity city of Cam­bridge in the early hours of yes­ter­day.

“We are deeply sad­dened that our beloved fa­ther passed away to­day,” Hawk­ing’s chil­dren, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a state­ment car­ried by Bri­tain’s Press As­so­ci­a­tion news agency.

“He was a great sci­en­tist and an ex­tra­or­di­nary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”

Hawk­ing de­fied pre­dic­tions he would only live for a few years af­ter de­vel­op­ing a form of mo­tor neu­ron dis­ease in his early 20s.

The ill­ness robbed him of mo­bil­ity, leav­ing him con­fined to a wheel­chair, al­most com­pletely paral­ysed and un­able to speak ex­cept through his trade­mark voice syn­the­siser.

“His courage and per­sis­tence with his bril­liance and hu­mour in­spired peo­ple across the world,” his fam­ily said.

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a uni­verse if it wasn’t home to the peo­ple you love.’ We will miss him for­ever.”

Born on Jan 8, 1942, 300 years to the day af­ter the death of the fa­ther of mod­ern sci­ence, Galileo Galilei, Hawk­ing be­came one of the world’s most well-re­garded sci­en­tists and en­tered the pan­theon of sci­ence ti­tans.

His death was an­nounced on the 139th an­niver­sary of the birth of Ein­stein.

In­side the shell of his in­creas­ingly use­less body was a ra­zor­sharp mind, with an en­dur­ing fas­ci­na­tion with the mys­ter­ies of black holes.

His work fo­cused on bring­ing to­gether rel­a­tiv­ity — the na­ture of space and time — and quan­tum the­ory — how the small­est par­ti­cles be­have — to ex­plain the cre­ation of the uni­verse and how it is gov­erned.

“My goal is sim­ple. It is com­plete un­der­stand­ing of the uni­verse, why it is as it is and why it ex­ists at all,” he once said.

But he was also a beloved fig­ure in pop­u­lar cul­ture, with cameos in Star Trek: The Next

Gen­er­a­tion and The Simp­sons, while his voice ap­peared in Pink Floyd songs.

Tributes be­gan pour­ing in from around the world, laud­ing him as an in­spi­ra­tion.

Amer­i­can astro­physi­cist Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted his con­do­lences, with a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally cos­mo­log­i­cal ref­er­ence.

“His pass­ing has left an in­tel­lec­tual vac­uum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vac­uum en­ergy per­me­at­ing the fab­ric of space­time that de­fies mea­sure.”

The Na­tional Aero­nau­tics and Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued its own Twit­ter eu­logy, pub­lish­ing a video of the sci­en­tist grin­ning as he soared into weight­less­ness on a zero grav­ity flight at the Kennedy Space Cen­ter in Florida, es­cap­ing his wheel­chair for a brief pe­riod of time.

“His the­o­ries un­locked a uni­verse of pos­si­bil­i­ties that we & the world are ex­plor­ing. May you keep fly­ing like su­per­man in mi­cro­grav­ity, as you said to as­tro­nauts on @Space_S­ta­tion in 2014.”

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said: “Hawk­ing was a

bril­liant and ex­tra­or­di­nary mind. His courage, hu­mour and de­ter­mi­na­tion to get the most from life was an in­spi­ra­tion. His legacy will not be for­got­ten.”

Hawk­ing’s first mar­riage to Jane Wilde in 1965 gave him three chil­dren and was im­mor­talised in the 2014 film The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing.

The cou­ple split af­ter 25 years and he mar­ried his for­mer nurse, Elaine Ma­son, but the union broke down amid al­le­ga­tions, de­nied by him, of abuse.

Hawk­ing be­came one of the youngest fel­lows of Bri­tain’s most pres­ti­gious sci­en­tific body, the Royal So­ci­ety, at the age of 32.

“It would not be much of a uni­verse if it wasn’t home to the peo­ple you love.” STEPHEN HAWK­ING, 1942-2018

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