Stephen Hawking passed away early this morning at the age of 76. Hawking was a legendary physicist, perhaps the most recognized scientist in astronomy and physics since Einstein. He died in his home of Cambridge, England.
Hawking was born on Jan. 8, 1942 (as Hawking often pointed out, the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo Galilei). He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) at 21 and was initially given less than three years to live.
In our daily Wonders of the Night Sky live show at Liberty Science Center, we explore black holes, one of the most dramatic and engaging topics in astronomy. Much of our contemporary understanding of these mysterious forces comes from Hawking’s work. His study of gravity and black holes, in fact, revolutionized our understanding of black holes.
Hawking's book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, published in 1988, popularized his work in this area. One of Hawking’s great breakthroughs: the realization that black holes were not the eternal, implacably black objects as once conceived; that in fact black holes do eventually fizzle, leak radiation, and eventually end their lives in explosions.
Click here to learn more about Hawking's lifetime and achievements.