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Archive for April 20th, 2009

Ask someone to picture a famous scientist and they will probably conjure up the wild-haired mental image of Albert Einstein. Perhaps second only to him, and no less iconic, would be this man:

In 1963, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s Disease – and given two or three years to live. Instead, as is well known, he beat the odds, found ways to communicate despite his disability and went on to become one of the greatest theoretical physicists of this or any era.

His book A Brief History of Time¬†sold millions of copies and is widely regarded as a near-perfect balance of scientific concept and simple explanation. I would be willing to bet that a great many younger readers of this book were influenced by its words to turn their minds to science; at the very least, one young reader was. I already found science ‘interesting’, but it was Hawking who put it firmly into ‘fascinating’ territory.

Today, Cambridge University released a statement to say that Hawking is very ill and is being cared for at one of the city’s hospitals.

If you’re inclined to say prayers, please spare one for this phenomenal human being. And even if you’re not, perhaps it wouldn’t go amiss just this once.

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