Stephen Hawking died in March of ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease that destroys nerve and muscle function over time. He will be buried today, June 15, 2018, alongside Charles Darwin and Issac Newton, with a plaque inscribed with his groundbreaking insight into black holes.
Diagnosed with ALS more than 50 years ago, he should have been dead in less than five. Instead, Hawking not only survived, he thrived, peering deep into the vast, darkness of our universe and thru science, shed light on it’s most thought provoking mysteries. Hawking was brilliant, but I was more impressed by his toughness. Not just physically, but his mental toughness.
He believed in science, but echoed many of his colleagues concerns regarding both artificial intelligence, and the lack of intelligence displayed by our political leaders and citizens of the world. Hawking was a man of science, but first, a man. An empathetic soul who rarely allowed his health to interfere with his goal; to shine a light into the dark areas of the world, regardless of the consequences.
Hawking revered science, and I revered his passion for life. And it is not without irony that I pin our hopes as a species on his greatest discovery; that light can emit from a black hole. It gives me hope that love and basic human decency can emerge from these sad, dark times. Times when political forces reject scientific progress and instead hide behind fearful, populist rumblings. But alas, science and progress will be undeterred. As should you.
And when we tire, when we feel sorry for ourselves, remember Stephen and smile.
He was a man of science. And he was a man.