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