en-es  Stephen Hawking, modern cosmology's brightest star, dies aged 76
Stephen Hawking, la estrella más brillante de la cosmología moderna, muere a los 76 años.

El físico y autor de A Brief History of Time [Breve historia del tiempo] ha fallecido en su casa de Cambridge. Sus hijos dijeron: "Lo extrañaremos para siempre".

The Guardian, Science, miércoles, 14 de marzo de 2018.

Stephen Hawking, la estrella más brillante en el firmamento de la ciencia, cuyas ideas dieron forma a la cosmología moderna e inspiró a millones de audiencias en todo el mundo, ha muerto a los 76 años.

Su familia emitió un comunicado la madrugada del miércoles confirmando su muerte en su casa en Cambridge.

Los hijos de Hawking, Lucy, Robert y Tim dijeron en un comunicado: "Estamos profundamente tristes porque nuestro amado padre ha fallecido hoy.

"Fue un gran científico y un hombre extraordinario cuyo trabajo y legado pervivirán por muchos años. Su coraje y persistencia junto a su brillantez y humor inspiraron a gente de todo el mundo.

"Él una vez dijo: 'no sería más un universo sino fuera el hogar de la gente que quieres". Para los científicos compañeros y los que lo querían, fueron la intuición de Hawking y su fino sentido del humor lo que le distinguió tanto como el cuerpo defectuoso y la voz sintética que vinieron a simbolizar las ilimitadas posibilidades de la mente humana.

No le temo a la muerte, pero no tengo prisa por morir. Tengo tantas cosas que quiero hacer primero.

Stephen Hawking.

Hawking fue llevado a Wagner, pero no a la botella, cuando fue diagnisticado con la enfermedad de la neurona motora en 1963 con 21 años. Los médicos le pronosticaron que viviría solo dos años más. Pero Hawking tenía un tipo de la enfermedad que progresaba más lentamente de lo habitual. Sobrevivió más de medio siglo y el tiempo suficiente para que su discapacidad lo definiera. Su popularidad seguramente habría sido menor sin ella.

Hawking estimó una vez que había trabajado solo 1000 horas durante sus tres años de licenciatura. ''Se suponía que deberías ser brilliante sin esfuerzo o aceptar tus limitaciones'', él escribió en su autobiografía en 2013, My Brief History ( Mi Breve Historia). En sus exámenes finales, Hawking se graduó en el límite entre excelente y notable. Convencido que estaba considerado un estudiante difícil,dijo a sus examinadores de la prueba oral que si le daban un excelente, se iría a Cambridge para obtener su doctorado. Si le otorgaban un notable, amenazó con quedarse en Oxford. Optaron por un excelente.

Aquellos que viven a la sombra de la muerte son a menudo los que más viven. Para Hawking, el diagnóstico precoz de su enfermedad terminal, y ser testigo de la muerte por leucemia de un niño que conoció en el hospital, activó un nuevo sentido de la vida. "Aunque había una nube que empañaba mi futuro, descubrí, para mi sorpresa, que entonces estaba disfrutando la vida más que antes. Empecé a progresar con mi investigación", dijo una vez. Al embarcarse en serio en su carrera, declaró: "Mi objetivo es simple. Es una comprensión completa del universo, por qué es como es y por qué existe en absoluto". Comenzó a usar muletas en la década de los 60, pero durante mucho tiempo luchó contra el uso de una silla de ruedas. Cuando finalmente cedió, se hizo notorio por su conducción salvaje por las calles de Cambridge, sin mencionar el atropello intencionado de los pies de los estudiantes y de vez en cuando los giros en la pista de baile en las fiestas de la universidad.

La primera innovación de Hawking vino en 1970, cuando él y Roger Penrose aplicaron las matemáticas de los agujeros negros al universo entero y mostraron que una singularidad , una región de curvatura infinita en el espacio-tiempo, yace en nuestro pasado lejano: el punto desde el cual vino el big- bang.

Penrose encontró que era capaz de hablar con Hawking incluso cuando el lenguaje de este falló. Pero lo principal que se encontró fue la absoluta determinación de Hawking a no dejar que nada se interpusiera en su camino. "Pensaba que no tenía mucho tiempo para vivir, y realmente quería obtener todo lo que podía hacerse en ese momento", dijo Penrose.

En las discusiones, Hawking podía ser provocativo, incluso antagónico.

Penrose recuerda una cena de conferencia donde Hawking entabló una conversación con afirmaciones cada vez más polémicas que parecían hechas para enfadar Penrose. Todas eran de carácter técnico y culminaron con la declaración de Hawking de que los agujeros blancos eran simplemente agujeros negros invertidos en el tiempo. ''Para mí, eso fue suficiente'', Penrose, exasperado, dijo al Guardian. ''Después de eso, tuvimos una larga discusión''. No hay paraíso u otra vida para ordenadores rotos; eso es un cuento de hadas para la gente que teme a la oscuridad.

Stephen Hawking.

En 1974 se basó en la teoría cuántica para declarar que los agujeros negros debían emitir calor y finalmente se extinguían. Para los agujeros negros normales, el proceso no es rápido, un agujero negro de la masa del sol tarda en evaporarse más de la edad del universo. Pero cerca del final de sus vidas, miniagujeros negros liberan calor a un ritmo espectacular, explotando finalmente con la energía de un millón de bombas de hidrógeno de 1 megatón. Agujeros negros minúsculos salpican el universo, dijo Hawking, cada uno tan pesado como mil millones de toneladas, pero no mayor que un protón.

Su propuesta que los agujeros negros radian calor agitó uno de los debates más apasionados de la moderna cosmología. Hawking argumentó que si un agujero negro pudiera evaporarse en un baño de radiación, toda la información que hubiera caído en su interior a lo largo de su existencia se perdería para siempre. Esto contradecía una de las leyes más básicas de la mecánica cuántica, y la mayoría de los físicos discreparon. Hawking volvió a creer la explicación más común, si bien no menos desconcertante, esa información está almacenada en la gran explosión del agujero negro y codificada de nuevo en la radiación que el agujero negro emite.

Marika Taylor, una antigua alumna de Hawking y actualmente profesora de física teórica en la universidad de Southampton, recuerda cómo Hawking anunció a sus estudiantes su giro de 180 grados sobre la paradoja de la información. Estaba argumentando su trabajo con ellos en el pub cuando Taylor advirtió que subía al máximo su sintetizador del habla. "¡Salgo fuera!", rugió. Todo el pub giró y miró al grupo antés que Hawking bajó el volumen y precisó la declaración: Estoy saliendo y admito que quizás la pérdida de información no ocurre''. Taylor dijo que había un senso de humor perverso.'' La serie de descubrimientos drásticos de Hawking le condujo a su elección en 1974 ala Royal Society a edad extremadamente joven de 32. Cinco años más tarde, fue nombrado a la silla Lucas de profesor de matemáticas en Cambridge, posiblemente la silla más destacada de Britania, y anteriormente ocupada por Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage y Paul Dirac, este último uno de los padres fundadores de la mecánica cuántica. Hawking ocupó el puesto 30 años, después pasó a ser director de investigación en el Centro para Cosmología Teórica.

Las contribuciones seminales de Hawking siguieron durante la década 1980. La teoría de la inflación cósmica sostiene que el universo en ciernes pasó por un período de expansión fabulosa. En 1982, Hawking fue uno de los primeros en mostrar cómo las fluctuaciones cuánticas -pequeñas variaciones en la distribución de la materia- podrían dar lugar, a través de la inflación, a la expansión de las galaxias en el universo. En estas pequeñas ondas se encuentran las semillas de las estrellas, los planetas y la vida tal como la conocemos. "Es una de las ideas más bellas de la historia de la ciencia", dijo Max Tegmark, profesor de física en el MIT.

Pero fue Breve historia del tiempo lo que lanzó a Hawking al estrellato. Publicado por primera vez en 1988, el título entró en el Libro Guinness de los récords después de permanecer, sin precedentes, en la lista de los más vendidos del Sunday Times durante 237 semanas. Se vendieron 10 millones de copias y se tradujo a 40 idiomas diferentes. Algo de mérito debe ser para el editor de Hawking en Bantam, Peter Guzzardi, quien tomó el título original: "Del Big Bang a Black Holes: A Short History of Time" [Del Big Bang a los agujeros negros: Corta historia del tiempo], le dio la vuelta y cambió el "Corta" por "Breve". Sin embargo, los bromistas lo llamaron el más grande de los libros no leídos de la historia.

Hawking se casó con su novia de la universidad, Jane Wilde, en 1965, dos años después de su diagnóstico. Ella se fijó en él por primera vez en 1962, bajando desgarbadamente por la calle St Albans, con la cabeza baja, cubierta por una masa de rebelde pelo castaño. Una amiga la advirtió de que se iba a casar en una "familia loca, loca". Con toda la inocencia de sus 21 años, confiaba en que Stephen la querría, escribió en su libro de 2013, Hacia el infinito. Mi vida con Stephen Hawking.

En 1985, durante un viaje a Cern, Hawking fue llevado al hospital con una infección. Estaba tan enfermo que los médicos le preguntaron a Jane si deberían retirar el soporte vital. Ella se negó y Hawking fue trasladado de vuelta al Hospital de Addenbrooke en Cambridge para una traqueotomía que le salvara la vida. La operación le salvó la vida pero le destruyó la voz. La pareja tenía tres niños, pero el matrimonio se rompió en 1991. La discapacidad creciente de Hawking, sus exigencias a Jane, su rechazo a discutir su enfermedad eran fuerzas destructivas que su relación no pudo soportar. Jane escribió de él que era "un niño poseído de un ego masivo y malhumorado", y cómo el marido y mujer se volvieron "amo" y "esclava".

Cuatro años después, Hawking se casó con Elaine Mason, una de las enfermeras empleadas para cuidarlo las 24 horas del día. Mason era la anterior esposa de David Mason, que diseñó el primer sintetizador de habla montado en una silla de ruedas que usó Hawking. El matrimonio duró once años, durante los cuales la policía de Cambridgeshire investigó una serie de presuntas agresiones contra Hawking. El físico negó que Elaine estuviera implicada y se negó a cooperar con la policía, que abandonó la investigación.

Hawking tal vez no haya sido el físico más importante de su época, pero en cosmología fue una figura destacada. No hay perfecta equivalencia para el mérito científico, pero Hawking ganó el Albert Einstein Award, el Wolf Prize, la medalla Copley y el premio de Física Fundamental. El premio Nobel, sin embargo, lo eludió. .
Mi objetivo es simple. Es una comprensión completa del universo, por qué es como es y por qué existe en absoluto.

Stephen Hawking.

Era aficionado a las apuestas científicas, a pesar de su habilidad para perderlas. En 1975, apostó al físico estadounidense Kip Thorne una suscripción a Penthouse que la fuente de rayos X cósmica Cygnus X-1 no era un agujero negro. Perdió en 1990. En 1997, Hawking y Thorne le apostaron a John Preskill una enciclopedia a que en los agujeros negros se debe perder la información. Hawking lo admitió en 2004. En 2012, Hawking perdió 100 $ con Gordon Kane por apostar que el bosón de Higgs no sería descubierto.

Dio una conferencia en la Casa Blanca durante la administración Clinton - sus referencias oblícuas al episodio de Mónica Lewinsky despistaron evidentemente a los que examinaron su charla - y volvió en 2009 para recibir la medalla presidencia de la libertad de manos de Barack Obama. Su vida se plasmó en biografías y documentales, el más reciente La teoría del tofo, en el que Eddie Redmayne lo representó. "A veces pensé que era yo", dijo Hawking al ver la película. Aparecía en los Simpsons y jugó al póquer con Einstein y Newton en Star Trek: la siguente generación. Aportó algunas observaciones preciosas sobre la teoría del Big Bang. ''¿Qué tienen en común Sheldon Cooper y un agujero negro?''Hawking preguntó al físico ficticio de Caltech cuyo coeficiente intelectual supera ampliamente sus aptitudes sociales. Después de un tiempo vino la respuesta: ''Ambos chupan.''. En 2012, algunos científicos se reunieron en Cambridge para celebrar el septuagésimo cumpleaños del cosmólogo. Fue uno de esos hitos en la vida que pocos esperaban que alcanzara Hawking. Pasó el evento en Addenbrooke, demasiado enfermo para asistir, pero en un mensaje grabado titulado "Una breve historia mía", hacía una llamada a la continua exploración del espacio "para el futuro de la humanidad". Si no nos extendemos al espacio, los seres humanos "no sobreviviremos otros mil años", dijo.

Más tarde se unió a Elon Musk de Tesla y al cofundador de Apple, Steve Wozniak, para advertir contra la carrera armamentista militar de inteligencia artificial y exigió la prohibición de las armas autónomas.

Hawkings disfrutaba buscando controversia y fue acusado de ser sexista y misógino. Apareció por el club de bailes eróticos Stringfellows en 2003 y años más tarde declaró que las mujeres eran "un completo misterio". En 2013 boicoteó un importante congreso en Israel por consejo de académicos palestinos.

Algunos de sus comentarios más francos ofendieron a las personas religiosas. En su libro de 2010, El gran diseño, declaró que Dios no era necesario para poner en marcha el universo y en una entrevista con The Guardian un año más tarde descartaba los consuelos de la fe religiosa.

"Yo considero el cerebro como un ordenador que dejará de funcionar cuando sus componentes fallen. No hay cielo o vida después de la muerte para ordenadores estropeados; eso es un cuento de hadas para personas que tienen miedo a la oscuridad", dijo.

También habló de la muerte, una eventualidad situada en un horizonte más distante de lo que los médicos pensaban. "He vivido con la perspectiva de una muerte temprana los últimos 49 años. No tengo miedo de la muerte, pero no tengo prisa por morir. Tengo mucho que hacer primero", dijo.

Lo que asombró a los que estaban en torno a él fue cuántas cosas logró hacer. Deja tres hijos, Robert, Lucy y Timothy de su primer matrimonio con Jane Wilde y tres nietos.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/14/stephen-hawking-professor-dies-aged-76
unit 1
Stephen Hawking, modern cosmology's brightest star, dies aged 76.
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The physicist and author of A Brief History of Time has died at his home in Cambridge.
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His children said: ‘We will miss him for ever’.
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The Guardian, Science, Wednesday, March 14, 2018.
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His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.
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I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die.
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I have so much I want to do first.
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Stephen Hawking.
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Doctors expected him to live for only two more years.
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But Hawking had a form of the disease that progressed more slowly than usual.
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He survived for more than half a century and long enough for his disability to define him.
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His popularity would surely have been diminished without it.
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Hawking once estimated he worked only 1,000 hours during his three undergraduate years at Oxford.
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In his finals, Hawking came borderline between a first and second class degree.
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Award a second and he threatened to stay at Oxford.
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They opted for a first.
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Those who live in the shadow of death are often those who live most.
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I began to make progress with my research,” he once said.
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Embarking on his career in earnest, he declared: “My goal is simple.
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Penrose found he was able to talk with Hawking even as the latter’s speech failed.
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In discussions, Hawking could be provocative, even antagonistic.
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“That did it so far as I was concerned,” an exasperated Penrose told the Guardian.
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Stephen Hawking.
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It contradicted one of the most basic laws of quantum mechanics, and plenty of physicists disagreed.
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“I’m coming out!” he bellowed.
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Hawking’s seminal contributions continued through the 1980s.
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In these tiny ripples lay the seeds of stars, planets and life as we know it.
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But it was A Brief History of Time that rocketed Hawking to stardom.
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It sold 10m copies and was translated into 40 different languages.
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Nevertheless, wags called it the greatest unread book in history.
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Hawking married his college sweetheart, Jane Wilde, in 1965, two years after his diagnosis.
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A friend warned her she was marrying into “a mad, mad family”.
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In 1985, during a trip to Cern, Hawking was taken to hospital with an infection.
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He was so ill that doctors asked Jane if they should withdraw life support.
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The operation saved his life but destroyed his voice.
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The couple had three children, but the marriage broke down in 1991.
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The Nobel prize, however, eluded him.
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.
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My goal is simple.
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It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
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Stephen Hawking.
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He was fond of scientific wagers, despite a knack for losing them.
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He lost in 1990.
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Hawking conceded in 2004.
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In 2012, Hawking lost $100 to Gordon Kane for betting that the Higgs boson would not be discovered.
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“At times I thought he was me,” Hawking said on watching the film.
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He delivered gorgeous put-downs on The Big Bang Theory.
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It was one of those milestones in life that few expected Hawking to reach.
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Hawking was happy to court controversy and was accused of being sexist and misogynist.
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In 2013, he boycotted a major conference in Israel on the advice of Palestinian academics.
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Some of his most outspoken comments offended the religious.
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“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail.
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He spoke also of death, an eventuality that sat on a more distant horizon than doctors thought.
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“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years.
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I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die.
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I have so much I want to do first,” he said.
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What astounded those around him was how much he did achieve.
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https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/14/stephen-hawking-professor-dies-aged-76
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Stephen Hawking, modern cosmology's brightest star, dies aged 76.

The physicist and author of A Brief History of Time has died at his home in Cambridge. His children said: ‘We will miss him for ever’.

The Guardian, Science, Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

Stephen Hawking, the brightest star in the firmament of science, whose insights shaped modern cosmology and inspired global audiences in the millions, has died aged 76.

His family released a statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning confirming his death at his home in Cambridge.

Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement: “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. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

“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 for ever.”

For fellow scientists and loved ones, it was Hawking’s intuition and wicked sense of humour that marked him out as much as the broken body and synthetic voice that came to symbolise the unbounded possibilities of the human mind.

I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.

Stephen Hawking.

Hawking was driven to Wagner, but not the bottle, when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21. Doctors expected him to live for only two more years. But Hawking had a form of the disease that progressed more slowly than usual. He survived for more than half a century and long enough for his disability to define him. His popularity would surely have been diminished without it.

Hawking once estimated he worked only 1,000 hours during his three undergraduate years at Oxford. “You were supposed to be either brilliant without effort, or accept your limitations,” he wrote in his 2013 autobiography, My Brief History. In his finals, Hawking came borderline between a first and second class degree. Convinced that he was seen as a difficult student, he told his viva examiners that if they gave him a first he would move to Cambridge to pursue his PhD. Award a second and he threatened to stay at Oxford. They opted for a first.

Those who live in the shadow of death are often those who live most. For Hawking, the early diagnosis of his terminal disease, and witnessing the death from leukaemia of a boy he knew in hospital, ignited a fresh sense of purpose. “Although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research,” he once said. Embarking on his career in earnest, he declared: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

He began to use crutches in the 1960s, but long fought the use of a wheelchair. When he finally relented, he became notorious for his wild driving along the streets of Cambridge, not to mention the intentional running over of students’ toes and the occasional spin on the dance floor at college parties.

Hawking’s first major breakthrough came in 1970, when he and Roger Penrose applied the mathematics of black holes to the entire universe and showed that a singularity, a region of infinite curvature in spacetime, lay in our distant past: the point from which came the big bang.

Penrose found he was able to talk with Hawking even as the latter’s speech failed. But the main thing that came across was Hawking’s absolute determination not to let anything get in his way. “He thought he didn’t have long to live, and he really wanted to get as much as he could have done at that time,” Penrose said.

In discussions, Hawking could be provocative, even antagonistic.

Penrose recalls one conference dinner where Hawking came out with a run of increasingly controversial statements that seemed hand-crafted to wind Penrose up. They were all of a technical nature and culminated with Hawking declaring that white holes were simply black holes reversed in time. “That did it so far as I was concerned,” an exasperated Penrose told the Guardian. “We had a long argument after that.”

There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

Stephen Hawking.

In 1974 he drew on quantum theory to declare that black holes should emit heat and eventually pop out of existence. For normal black holes, the process is not a fast one, it taking longer than the age of the universe for a black hole the mass of the sun to evaporate. But near the ends of their lives, mini-black holes release heat at a spectacular rate, eventually exploding with the energy of a million one-megaton hydrogen bombs. Miniature black holes dot the universe, Hawking said, each as heavy as a billion tonnes, but no larger than a proton.

His proposal that black holes radiate heat stirred up one of the most passionate debates in modern cosmology. Hawking argued that if a black hole could evaporate into a bath of radiation, all the information that fell inside over its lifetime would be lost forever. It contradicted one of the most basic laws of quantum mechanics, and plenty of physicists disagreed. Hawking came round to believing the more common, if no less baffling explanation, that information is stored at the black hole’s event horizon and encoded back into radiation as the black hole radiates.

Marika Taylor, a former student of Hawking’s and now professor of theoretical physics at Southampton University, remembers how Hawking announced his U-turn on the information paradox to his students. He was discussing their work with them in the pub when Taylor noticed he was turning his speech synthesiser up to the max. “I’m coming out!” he bellowed. The whole pub turned around and looked at the group before Hawking turned the volume down and clarified the statement: “I’m coming out and admitting that maybe information loss doesn’t occur.” He had, Taylor said, “a wicked sense of humour.”

Hawking’s run of radical discoveries led to his election in 1974 to the Royal Society at the exceptionally young age of 32. Five years later, he became the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, arguably Britain’s most distinguished chair, and one formerly held by Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage and Paul Dirac, the latter one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics. Hawking held the post for 30 years, then moved to become director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.

Hawking’s seminal contributions continued through the 1980s. The theory of cosmic inflation holds that the fledgling universe went through a period of terrific expansion. In 1982, Hawking was among the first to show how quantum fluctuations – tiny variations in the distribution of matter – might give rise through inflation to the spread of galaxies in the universe. In these tiny ripples lay the seeds of stars, planets and life as we know it. “It is one of the most beautiful ideas in the history of science” said Max Tegmark, a physics professor at MIT.

But it was A Brief History of Time that rocketed Hawking to stardom. Published for the first time in 1988, the title made the Guinness Book of Records after it stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an unprecedented 237 weeks. It sold 10m copies and was translated into 40 different languages. Some credit must go to Hawking’s editor at Bantam, Peter Guzzardi, who took the original title: “From the Big Bang to Black Holes: A Short History of Time”, turned it around, and changed the “Short” to “Brief”. Nevertheless, wags called it the greatest unread book in history.

Hawking married his college sweetheart, Jane Wilde, in 1965, two years after his diagnosis. She first set eyes on him in 1962, lolloping down the street in St Albans, his face down, covered by an unruly mass of brown hair. A friend warned her she was marrying into “a mad, mad family”. With all the innocence of her 21 years, she trusted that Stephen would cherish her, she wrote in her 2013 book, Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen.

In 1985, during a trip to Cern, Hawking was taken to hospital with an infection. He was so ill that doctors asked Jane if they should withdraw life support. She refused, and Hawking was flown back to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for a lifesaving tracheotomy. The operation saved his life but destroyed his voice. The couple had three children, but the marriage broke down in 1991. Hawking’s worsening disability, his demands on Jane, and his refusal to discuss his illness, were destructive forces the relationship could not endure. Jane wrote of him being “a child possessed of a massive and fractious ego,” and how husband and wife became “master” and “slave”.

Four years later, Hawking married Elaine Mason, one of the nurses employed to give him round-the-clock care. Mason was the former wife of David Mason, who designed the first wheelchair-mounted speech synthesiser Hawking used. The marriage lasted 11 years, during which Cambridgeshire police investigated a series of alleged assaults on Hawking. The physicist denied that Elaine was involved, and refused to cooperate with police, who dropped the investigation.

Hawking was not, perhaps, the greatest physicist of his time, but in cosmology he was a towering figure. There is no perfect proxy for scientific worth, but Hawking won the Albert Einstein Award, the Wolf Prize, the Copley Medal, and the Fundamental Physics Prize. The Nobel prize, however, eluded him.
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My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.

Stephen Hawking.

He was fond of scientific wagers, despite a knack for losing them. In 1975, he bet the US physicist Kip Thorne a subscription to Penthouse that the cosmic x-ray source Cygnus X-1 was not a black hole. He lost in 1990. In 1997, Hawking and Thorne bet John Preskill an encyclopaedia that information must be lost in black holes. Hawking conceded in 2004. In 2012, Hawking lost $100 to Gordon Kane for betting that the Higgs boson would not be discovered.

He lectured at the White House during the Clinton administration – his oblique references to the Monica Lewinsky episode evidently lost on those who screened his speech – and returned in 2009 to receive the presidential medal of freedom from Barack Obama. His life was played out in biographies and documentaries, most recently The Theory of Everything, in which Eddie Redmayne played him. “At times I thought he was me,” Hawking said on watching the film. He appeared on The Simpsons and played poker with Einstein and Newton on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He delivered gorgeous put-downs on The Big Bang Theory. “What do Sheldon Cooper and a black hole have in common?” Hawking asked the fictional Caltech physicist whose IQ comfortably outstrips his social skills. After a pause, the answer came: “They both suck.”

In 2012, scientists gathered in Cambridge to celebrate the cosmologist’s 70th birthday. It was one of those milestones in life that few expected Hawking to reach. He spent the event at Addenbrooke’s, too ill to attend, but in a recorded message entitled A Brief History of Mine, he called for the continued exploration of space “for the future of humanity.” Without spreading out into space, humans would not “survive another thousand years”, he said.

He later joined Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to warn against an artificial intelligence military arms race, and called for a ban on autonomous weapons.

Hawking was happy to court controversy and was accused of being sexist and misogynist. He turned up at Stringfellows lap dancing club in 2003, and years later declared women “a complete mystery”. In 2013, he boycotted a major conference in Israel on the advice of Palestinian academics.

Some of his most outspoken comments offended the religious. In his 2010 book, Grand Design, he declared that God was not needed to set the universe going, and in an interview with the Guardian a year later, dismissed the comforts of religious belief.

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he said.

He spoke also of death, an eventuality that sat on a more distant horizon than doctors thought. “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he said.

What astounded those around him was how much he did achieve. He leaves three children, Robert, Lucy and Timothy, from his first marriage to Jane Wilde, and three grandchildren.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/14/stephen-hawking-professor-dies-aged-76