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/ Stephen Hawking RIP

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mypyrex - on 14 Mar 2018

Has died, aged 76

According to BBC passed away early today

Post edited at 06:54
Yanis Nayu - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Just seen that. I’m a bit shocked. What an incredible man. 

tradisrad - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Sad news indeed. 

mypyrex - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

He's up there now with other "greats" - Isaac Newton, Faraday, Galileo, Einstein, Brunel et al

Bobling - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Will be a sad day at work today (University Physics Dept).  His initial diagnosis as a junior PhD/DPhil student was 2 years to live - and here he is finally succumbing 50 years later.

I think his work challenging perceptions of disability can't be underestimated.

Timmd on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Bobling:

> Will be a sad day at work today (University Physics Dept).  His initial diagnosis as a junior PhD/DPhil student was 2 years to live - and here he is finally succumbing 50 years later.

> I think his work challenging perceptions of disability can't be underestimated.

Yes, he broke new groups in two ways.  I'm putting your typo down to the early hour of the morning combined with flu. Anybody would be mildly addled. 

Post edited at 07:48
DerwentDiluted - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Few people manage to become iconic for both their mind and their physicality. I think he achieved both and is a sad loss. The world feels like a dumber place than yesterday.

The Lemming - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Just heard Prof Cox talk on Radio 2 about Stephen Hawking.  Brian said that Stephen was one of the greatest scientists of all time and put him up there with Einstein.

Post edited at 07:52
Trangia on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

I think he should be remembered for what I believe was one of his greatest quotes.

On the Universe

"It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love"

 
planetmarshall on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Surprised myself by being a bit teary at this news. Somehow I thought he'd outrun time forever.

A common sight in Cambridge where I grew up, I regret that I never experienced the rite of passage that was being run over by his wheelchair.

From Ian McMillan, a man with a bit more of a facility with words than I:

"RIP Stephen Hawking: the last page closes on one more brief history of Time."

neilh - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

My 18 year old daughter was gutted and sad this morning- she is sitting in year 13 and hopes to do Maths degree. The young find him very inspirational.

Not often i feel sad when somebody famous passes away, today is one of those days.

Dave Garnett - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Trangia:

Of course, it takes a mother to really bring you down to earth:

"He was a very normal young man. He liked parties.  He liked pretty girls - only pretty ones.  He liked adventure and he did, to some extent, like work."

Easy to forget the young man inside what he became - as so movingly captured in The Theory of Everything.

And a genius too, obviously!

 

Timmd on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Dave Garnett:

I like the qualification about him liking work.

The Wild Scallion on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Sad news indeed 

RIP Steven 

malk - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to The Lemming:

> Just heard Prof Cox talk on Radio 2 about Stephen Hawking.  Brian said that Stephen was one of the greatest scientists of all time and put him up there with Einstein.


not even one of the greatest physicists:

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2013/may/12/the-10-best-physicists

MonkeyPuzzle - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to malk:

a) Says that guy

b) Why are we only allowed a maximum of ten great anythings?

Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to The Lemming:

> Just heard Prof Cox talk on Radio 2 about Stephen Hawking.  Brian said that Stephen was one of the greatest scientists of all time and put him up there with Einstein.

I really like Brian Cox, but surely this is going way, way over the top.

Columbia753 - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Achieved so much.  Amazing achievements but where in the scale of greatness only history will decide. 

Post edited at 10:30
Hat Dude on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Nobody so far has mentioned his finest moment - punching Principal Skinner with the spring loaded boxing glove on The Simpsons.

malk - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

 

> I really like Brian Cox, but surely this is going way, way over the top.

i dislike cox.

Hawking said himself that he had made a modest but significant contribution which seems about right.

Post edited at 10:29
planetmarshall on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I really like Brian Cox, but surely this is going way, way over the top.

Well, that's not really what Cox said. He said that Hawking's contributions to theoretical physics would be remembered along with Einstein's - specifically the discovery of what is now termed 'Hawking Radiation'

For a thorough, and quite technical, overview of Hawking's scientific legacy, See Roger Penrose's obituary in the Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/14/stephen-hawking-obituary

planetmarshall on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Hat Dude:

> Nobody so far has mentioned his finest moment - punching Principal Skinner with the spring loaded boxing glove on The Simpsons.

I particularly enjoyed this - 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AW-p8s_HCCo

summo on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

Whilst professionally he excelled, he did also simplify things and brought theoretical physics to the masses through his books. 

TheDrunkenBakers - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to malk:

> i dislike cox.

Why?

 

Timmd on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Timmd:

> Yes, he broke new groups in two ways.  I'm putting your typo down to the early hour of the morning combined with flu. Anybody would be mildly addled. 

New 'ground' I mean, I have been up all night (helping out a mate) but that'll teach me. 

Post edited at 13:13
Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Well, that's not really what Cox said. He said that Hawking's contributions to theoretical physics would be remembered along with Einstein's - specifically the discovery of what is now termed 'Hawking Radiation'

Good, in that case!

Michael Hood - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Hat Dude:

> Nobody so far has mentioned his finest moment - punching Principal Skinner with the spring loaded boxing glove on The Simpsons.

I prefer his winding Sheldon up in TBBT.

Baron Weasel - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Michael Hood:

Let's hope this still happens and we have an NHS as part of this great mans legacy.

https://www.thecanary.co/discovery/health/2018/03/14/stephen-hawking-take-jeremy-hunt-court-wrecking-nhs/

Dave Kerr - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I really like Brian Cox, but surely this is going way, way over the top.

From memory he didn't actually say he was up there with Einstein. What he actually said was that he was like Einstein in that some of his work would be relevant as long as there were people doing science.

Edit: Just seen the same point further up.

Post edited at 16:13
mypyrex - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

> He's up there now with other "greats" - Isaac Newton, Faraday, Galileo, Einstein, Brunel et al


Sorry, I left Ken Dodd out ;o)

paul__in_sheffield - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to malk:

what a list, Maxwell, Rutherford, Dirac, and my favourite Feynman.....a really funny guy.

Phil79 - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> i dislike cox.

> Why?

'cause he was shit on the keyboard?

Andy Clarke - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Many decades ago as a student I was lucky enough to get one of the upstairs rooms in the house that the college had specially converted for Hawking and his family. In those days, he was still managing to talk unaided and you could tune in to his slurred speech. Of course he was everything that many people have said: brilliant, courageous, humane and witty. But it also needs saying that he gave great parties, to which the few penniless students secreted on the upper floor and in the very attic (me, like a sort of latter day Mrs Rochester) got invited. I remember at one of them meeting Ed Dorn, the American poet on whom I had quite a boy crush at that time - and still have. I shall never forget Stephen, who was certainly one of the most inspirational men I was ever fortunate enough to meet. RIP.

Pursued by a bear - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

It says something positive that a someone who worked in a difficult area of physics with no potential benefit to society beyond that of better understanding one of the more puzzling things in the universe, and who had an incurable, degenerative disease that robbed him of his independence, his mobility and even the use of his own voice should nevertheless become one of the world's best known scientists, his death mourned by heads of state and by celebrities from around the globe, as well as by scientists, colleagues and of course, his family.

I never met him but did know the chap who was, if I remember the conversation correctly, his best man at his first marriage.  

T.

elsewhere on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Many, many, many great quotes - every word had to count.

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

""It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love."

"I have always tried to overcome the limitations of my condition and lead as full a life as possible. I have traveled the world, from the Antarctic to zero gravity. Perhaps one day I will go into space." 

Sean Kelly - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

I imagine that when he walks through those pearly gates he will be asking god for a game of dice!

http://www.hawking.org.uk/does-god-play-dice.html

Trangia on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I really like Brian Cox, but surely this is going way, way over the top.

Care to give your reasons?

Genuine question from a non physicist 

Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Trangia:

> Care to give your reasons?

> Genuine question from a non physicist 

General Relativity. 

balmybaldwin - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> General Relativity. 


I would not be surprised if some of Hawking's theories become just as important (although of course they all work forward from the theory of general relativity) but it may not be for several hundred years that the rest of us understand why.

It's not just his academic work though... he is also responsible for educating the masses by communicating complex scientific subjects so clearly for those of us that didn't know what a quark was.

He was a great man, but only time will tell if he is remembered like Newton, Einstein etc

Coel Hellier - on 14 Mar 2018
Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> I would not be surprised if some of Hawking's theories become just as important.

But none of them are going to be as transformative of our understanding as general relativity surely. GR was a major revolution; I would have thought a major step forward in quantum gravity would be needed to have that sort of stature.

> It's not just his academic work though... he is also responsible for educating the masses by communicating complex scientific subjects so clearly.

But is he? It seems that A Brief History of Time is best known for being left unfinished by the layman. I actually thought it was quite a disappointing book and I've read many better.

But don't get me wrong; he was a brilliant physicist but arguably a bit overhyped maybe?

 

 

Post edited at 20:33
Tobes on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to malk:

> i dislike cox.

Yeah I’m not a fan but my girlfriend loves Cox.

sorry.....inappropriate? 

 

Timmd on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> I would not be surprised if some of Hawking's theories become just as important (although of course they all work forward from the theory of general relativity) but it may not be for several hundred years that the rest of us understand why.

That's what I was thinking earlier today. Some people come up with theories which are still relevant a long time into the future. 

Robert Durran - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> He was a great man, but only time will tell if he is remembered like Newton, Einstein etc

Interesting piece on Newsnight a few minutes ago including an interview with Roger Penrose no less who collaborated with him: "You can't compare him to Newton amd Einstein". Maybe add Maxwell to that?

Rather overharshly, perhaps, Hawking is described as an "indulgent fairytale physicist" in Jim Baggott's book "Farewell to Reality" which critcises the way physics has lost its way in highly speculative and all but untestable theory.

Anyway it was good to hear kids at school today and at the wall this evening talking about Hawking and physics!

wintertree - on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

 

> But none of them are going to be as transformative of our understanding as general relativity surely. GR was a major revolution; I would have thought a major step forward in quantum gravity would be needed to have that sort of stature.

It is I think to early to judge. 

I think perhaps that the consequences of black holes having both a definite temperature and definite entropy hint at some deeper understanding than either General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics.  Does all emerge from some underlying system in a way described by information theory?  Is information the only thing that’s actually real?  

Further, “stature” is hard to judge in a simple comparison.  Einstein and Hawking worked in very different times - we now know far better than a century ago just how incomplete our best physical theories are, yet the pace of fundamental breakthroughs in physics is far lower than it used to be.   Either we aren’t identifying and training people in the right ways to break through (*) or we’re getting to the point where it surpasses people’s abilities to break through.  What would/could Hawking have achieved if he was a contemporary to Einstein?  Would he be lauded for GR instead?  Trying to compare the worth of scientists acros the eras is largely futile and I feel rather bad taste.  

(*) - I think the whole system is set up against breakthroughs now, both in the conservative nature of funding but also in education.  Mathematical breakthroughs seem to be biased towards younger people. But the point in one’s life where one works on genuine original research is getting later and later in that life, as adulthood gradually drifts to higher ages.  

Post edited at 00:36
Robert Durran - on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to wintertree:

> I think perhaps that the consequences of black holes having both a definite temperature and definite entropy hint at some deeper understanding than either General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics.  Does all emerge from some underlying system in a way described by information theory?  Is information the only thing that’s actually real?  

Maybe the next "Einstein" will answer these questions ;-)

>   Either we aren’t identifying and training people in the right ways to break through (*) or we’re getting to the point where it surpasses people’s abilities to break through. 

Let's hope not!

> (*) - I think the whole system is set up against breakthroughs now, both in the conservative nature of funding but also in education. 

Have you read Lee Smolin's book, The Trouble With Physics? The first half is by far the best popular account of the state of physics I've read and the second half criticises the way the system is set up against big breakthroughs (it is particularly critical of the bias against other approaches than string theory which Smolin himself, if I recall rightly, became disillusioned with and switched to alternative versions of quantum gravity).

kestrelspl on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think the best way for the non-physicists to understand the physicists advising against Hawking Einstein comparisons is that it's not a comment on Hawking but on Einstein. Hawking was undoubtedly a great scientist and his contributions to physics, disability rights and science communication will be remembered for a long time. But Einstein's contributions to science are almost unparalleled and still probably once a century scale.

Nevertheless we've lost one of the planets brightest and it's a sad day.

Post edited at 01:54
planetmarshall on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> I would not be surprised if some of Hawking's theories become just as important (although of course they all work forward from the theory of general relativity...

Well, that's not strictly true. Hawking's work was important because he went beyond the scope of GR, and made one of the first steps in marrying GR, Quantum Field theory and thermodynamics.

From Roger Penrose:

by combining the procedures of quantum (field) theory with those of general relativity, Hawking established that it is necessary also to bring in a third subject, thermodynamics. They are generally regarded as Hawking’s greatest contributions. That they have deep implications for future theories of fundamental physics is undeniable, but the detailed nature of these implications is still a matter of much heated debate.

Dave Garnett - on 15 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Rather overharshly, perhaps, Hawking is described as an "indulgent fairytale physicist" in Jim Baggott's book "Farewell to Reality" which critcises the way physics has lost its way in highly speculative and all but untestable theory.

There's a difference between the 'unknowable' and the 'untestable yet'.  Sometimes you to wait until you have technology (and money) to build a LIGO or an LHC.  


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