Today, on the sixth day of British Science Week, we are celebrating the life of a man who is arguably one of the greatest physicists of all time – Professor Stephen Hawking (1942-2018).

Stephen Hawking was a world-renowned theoretical physicist and has contributed greatly to the fields of general relativity, cosmology and quantum gravity, particularly in the context of his work around black holes. His discovery that black holes should emit radiation, which is today known as Hawking radiation, has become the inspiration for many other scientists in this field.

Hawking was able to bring complex scientific theories to the masses with ‘A Brief History of Time’, which became an international best seller, selling over 10 million copies. Hawking had come to be thought of as one of the greatest minds in physics since Albert Einstein and a towering force in cosmology.

Despite suffering with a form of Motor Neurone disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), being told that he had just years to live at the age of 21, and spending the greater part of his life (since 1985) speaking through a speech synthesizer, Hawking was a dynamic and fun-loving character. Outside of the world of science, Hawking pervades popular culture and has featured on The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory and played poker with Einstein and Newton on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In 2009, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.

Hawking was also widely quoted, his words striking a chord with many of us in our office. In his own words:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”

Stephen Hawking was unique in his ability to make complex theories and concepts accessible and has inspired a generation both with his work and how he dealt with a life changing condition. Long may his legacy continue.

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By Claire James, Account Director at The Scott Partnership.