We didn’t understand much of what he said; we just knew it was brilliant.
That such a singularly remarkable mind could reside in such a thoroughly disabled body should give you a clue as to the man’s heart.
Professor Stephen Hawking died at his home in Cambridge, England, at the age of 76. He was diagnosed with the crippling nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at age 21, and told he would probably live only a few more years.
His heart told him a lot longer than that, because that amazing mind had much, much more to share with the mere mortals around him. Long after the ALS ravaged his body to the point of almost complete uselessness.
What he did have to share was way above most of our pay grades. See, Professor Hawking was a theoretical physicist, whose job it was, according to him, to figure out the origins of the universe. Why are we here, and how did we get here, in other words. His dramatic breakthroughs on black holes and cosmology paved the way for all other scientists of his field to follow.
Hawking’s landmark book, “A Brief History of Time”, is widely regarded as the least-read bestseller ever. Lots of us bought it, lots of us started it, but not too many of us got all the way through it. (This ol’ boy didn’t even attempt it.)
He spoke of things that often were even beyond the comprehension of his colleagues. His mind was on just that much higher plane than ours.
But, more significantly, he didn’t allow the disease that mercilessly attacked his body to deter his ability and determination to think, to explore, to theorize…
And especially, to communicate. To share his discoveries. To try and make them more accessible to the mortals, so they could share his excitement at what he had found.
Dr. Sheldon Cooper, the physicist played by Jim Parsons on the TV series, “The Big Bang Theory”, is undoubtedly shedding tears for his scientific idol today.
We were graced with his presence, awed by his brilliance, and inspired by his will.
Thank you so much, Professor, for giving us a piece of your mind. May we be good stewards of the knowledge you so generously imparted.