Institute Professor Emeritus Morris Halle, one of the most accomplished and influential scholars in the field of linguistics, died of natural causes on Monday at age 94. Halle was an expert in phonology, the structure of sounds in language. His wide-ranging work helped establish his own field as an important domain of research and helped systematize inquiry into the subject. Halle's work was part of a revolution in linguistics that helped scholars understand human language as a phenomenon with a deep and universal structure, which stemmed from distinctive human faculties. Beyond his own research, Halle helped found MIT's renowned linguistics program and helped imbue it with its intellectual ethos, by encouraging meticulous research, a fruitful combination of empirical work and theory, and a spirit of collaborative, open-ended inquiry, which Halle exemplified throughout his own academic life.
Renowned British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died on March 14, 2018. The news generated an online view rate of nearly 500 million in China. At the same time, almost 250,000 viewers responded to the news with comments and messages. According to Agence France-Presse, Stephen Hawking opened a Sina Weibo account two years ago and started posting messages in English and Chinese. These were well received by the Chinese followers, as Hawking wanted to engage fully with his Chinese audience and learn from them.
Stephen Hawking's computer-generated voice is so iconic that it's trademarked -- The filmmakers behind The Theory of Everything had to get Hawking's personal permission to use the voice in his biopic. But that voice has an interesting origin story of its own. Back in the '80s, when Hawking was first exploring text-to-speech communication options after he lost the power of speech, a pioneer in computer-generated speech algorithms was working at MIT on that very thing. His name was Dennis Klatt. As Wired uncovered, Klatt's work was incorporated into one of the first devices that translated speech into text: the DECtalk.
The University of Cambridge professor was an iconic figure in both the scientific community and in popular culture, known for his keen mind and humor, as well as his striking physical challenges. Dr. Hawking had long battled with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which left him wheelchair-bound for most of his life. Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease or motor neuron disease, the condition damages the nerves that control movement and results in paralysis. Patients with ALS typically die within five years of diagnosis. Dr. Hawking, who was diagnosed in 1963 at the age of 21, is believed to have been the longest-living survivor, a fact that still perplexes neurologists.
For arguably the most famous physicist on Earth, Stephen Hawking--who died Wednesday in Cambridge at 76 years old--was wrong a lot. He thought, for a while, that black holes destroyed information, which physics says is a no-no. He thought Cygnus X-1, an emitter of X-rays over 6,000 light years away, wouldn't turn out to be a black hole. He thought no one would ever find the Higgs boson, the particle indirectly responsible for the existence of mass in the universe. But Hawking was right a lot, too.
LONDON – Stephen Hawking, Britain's most famous scientist, who dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the universe, has died at age 76. His children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement carried by Britain's Press Association news agency on Wednesday: "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." Born on Jan. 8, 1942 -- 300 years to the day after the death of the father of modern science, Galileo Galilei -- he believed science was his destiny. But fate also dealt Hawking a cruel hand.
Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like "The Left Hand of Darkness" and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed the death. He did not specify a cause but said she had been in poor health for several months. Ms. Le Guin embraced the standard themes of her chosen genres: sorcery and dragons, spaceships and planetary conflict. But even when her protagonists are male, they avoid the macho posturing of so many science fiction and fantasy heroes.
He married Patricia Enderson in 1950, and they raised five children. He received his Ph.D. in psychology in 1954 from the University of Southern California. His dissertation was entitled "The Prediction of Accident Rates from Basic Design Features of USAF Aircraft." His first job after graduation was with Douglas Aircraft Corporation in Santa Monica, California, where he developed computerized methods for statistical forecasting of labor costs for building newly designed airplanes. He began work in 1955 at RAND Corporation and continued in 1957 at its offshoot, the System Development Corporation (SDC), also in Santa Monica, where he was head of the Language Processing Research Program until 1968.