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World Renowned Physicist Stephen Hawking Has Died
Stephen Hawking was famed for his work with black holes and relativity (CCSS Level: Grade 10, Words: 492)
Mar 15, 2018 Science & Technology
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British Physicist Stephen W. Hawking, whose theory of black holes altered the course of modern scientific thought, and whose ability to convey abstract concepts of quantum physics to a mass audience made him a popular cultural icon, has died peacefully in the early hours of Wednesday, at the age of 76 at his home in Cambridge.

At the University of Cambridge's Gonville and Caius College, where Stephen Hawking was a fellow for more than half a century, the college flag was flying at half-mast on Wednesday. It had been lowered in acknowledgement of the death of the internationally renowned scientist, who was also one of the college's most beloved figures. "Stephen's loss is a great one for the college," said its master, Prof Sir Alan Fersht, who first met Hawking in 1965 as a student. "Caius is Stephen; they have been intertwined for over 50 years."

His age and his death was one of the many marvels of a life full of them. Diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease at age 21, Hawking was told that he would likely live no more than three years. Hawking defied his doctor's predictions by adding over 51 years to his expected lifespan.

During this time, Hawking not only made new discoveries in his field, but also exposed these ideas to an audience far beyond academic circles. He did so while disease continued to debilitate his body.

Like no scientist since Albert Einstein, Hawking came to represent the scientific community to the would at large. His achievements became inextricable from the image he presented: That of a brilliant mind unwilling to be fettered by a frail body. Wheelchair-bound and unable to speak with his mouth, Hawking was able to use technology to communicate his ideas to the world. These ideas were some of the most well regarded scientific hypotheses of the late 20th century.

His most famous book - A Brief History of Time - has now shot to the top of the Amazon Best Seller list.

Hawking's discoveries:

  • With the Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose, he showed that if there was a Big Bang, it must have started from an infinitely small point - a singularity
  • Black holes radiate energy known as Hawking radiation, while gradually losing mass. This is due to quantum effects near the edge of the black hole, a region called the event horizon
  • He predicted the existence of mini-black holes at the time of the Big Bang. These black holes would have shed mass until they vanished, potentially ending their lives in an explosion that would release vast amounts of energy
  • In the 1970s, Hawking considered whether the particles and light that enter a black hole were ultimately destroyed if the black hole evaporated. Hawking initially thought that this "information" was lost from the Universe. But the US physicist Leonard Susskind disagreed. These ideas became known as the information paradox. In 2014, Hawking conceded that the information must be retained
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