Professor Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76 - more than 50 years after he was given just two years to live. The world's most celebrated scientist passed away peacefully at his home in Cambridge this morning after a long battle with motor neurone disease, his family has revealed. His children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement: 'We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. 'He once said, 'It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love.' We will miss him forever'. They also said their father's'courage, persistence, brilliance and humour inspired people across the world' - shown in a recent poll that saw him voted the 25th greatest Briton of all time. Professor Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 when he was 21 and he defied medical experts who said he would be dead within two years. In the following 55 years he became the world's most famous scientist since Albert Einstein for his work exploring the mysteries of space, time and black holes despite being wheelchair-bound and only able to communicate using a computer and his famous voice synthesizer. University of Cambridge vice-chancellor Professor Stephen Toope said today: 'His exceptional contributions to scientific knowledge and the popularisation of science and mathematics have left an indelible legacy. His character was an inspiration to millions'.
Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works included a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Hawking was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009 and achieved commercial success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general. His book, A Brief History of Time, appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Hawking had a rare early-onset slow-progressing form of motor neurone disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Lou Gehrig's disease), that gradually paralysed him over the decades. Even after the loss of his speech, he was still able to communicate through a speech-generating device, initially through use of a hand-held switch, and eventually by using a single cheek muscle. Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 in Oxford to Frank (1905–1986) and Isobel Hawking (née Walker; 1915–2013). Despite their families' financial constraints, both parents attended the University of Oxford, where Frank read medicine and Isobel read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. The two met shortly after the beginning of the Second World War at a medical research institute where Isobel was working as a secretary and Frank was working as a medical researcher. They lived in Highgate; but, as London was being bombed in those years, Isobel went to Oxford to give birth in greater safety. Hawking had two younger sisters, Philippa and Mary, and an adopted brother, Edward. In 1950, when Hawking's father became head of the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research, Hawking and his family moved to St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Conspiracy theories used to be seen as bizarre expressions of harmless eccentrics. Gone are the days of outlandish theories about Roswell's UFOs, the "hoax" moon landings or grassy knolls. Instead, today's iterations have morphed into political weapons. Turbocharged by social media, they spread with astonishing speed, using death threats as currency. Together with their first cousins, fake news, they are challenging society's trust in facts. At its most toxic, this contagion poses a profound threat to democracy by damaging its bedrock: a shared commitment to truth. Their growing reach and scale is astonishing. A University of Chicago study estimated in 2014 that half of the American public consistently endorses at least one conspiracy theory. When they repeated the survey last November, the proportion had risen to 61%. The startling finding was echoed by a recent study from the University of Cambridge that found 60% of Britons are wedded to a false narrative.
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.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, her sons, Princes William and Harry, have joined in a documentary remembrance, "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy." Premiering Monday on HBO, it's a big love note from family, friends and others who came close within the circle of her radiance. It makes no attempt to be a complete portrait, but rather concentrates on her goodness and good works, as a person and a public figure. There is sadness in it, but no scandal. I am good with this version.