Stephen Hawking, in 2007, tries zero gravity during a flight aboard a modified Boeing 727 aircraftJim Campbell/Aero-News Network

Professor Stephen Hawking’s passing this morning has been met with an outpouring of tributes, both within Cambridge and worldwide. Many spoke of inspiration, genius, and perseverance against great adversity, noting Hawking’s long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a rare form of motor neurone disease that confined him to a wheelchair and made him largely unable to speak without technological assistance.

Within Cambridge, Hawking has been honoured by Gonville and Caius, where he was a fellow for over 50 years. A statement from Caius described the “indelible imprint” left by Hawking on life at the college, and emphasised that through his determination and perseverance, Hawking “shattered any notions of the limitations of disability”. Professor Alan Fersht, Master of Caius, paid personal tribute to the “science superstar” in a video tribute, comparing his achievements and legacy with those of Einstein and Newton.


Mountain View

Stephen Hawking – Cambridge cosmologist who taught the world to wonder

Speaking in 2015 at a dinner celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his fellowship at Caius, Hawking affirmed his gratitude and strong sense of Caian identity, saying “Caius gave me a home literally and figuratively, and is a constant thread running through my life”.

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner added his voice to the tributes, saying: “[Hawking’s] contributions to science will live in history forever, as will his passion for people. He was quite simply an inspirational scientist, with a powerful social conscience and he encapsulated everything that is Cambridge.” He added that Hawking’s contribution to the city “will not be forgotten.”

The faculty of Mathematics, too, published a tribute to Hawking, former Lucasian professor – a highly prestigious academic post – while Lord Martin Rees, cosmologist and fellow of the Royal Society, wrote on the Cambridge University website, about “what a triumph” Hawking’s life has been, declaring that “millions have had their cosmic horizons widened” thanks to his work.

Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of the University, said in a University tribute today that Hawking was “an inspiration to millions”, describing the late cosmologist as “a unique individual who will be remembered with warmth and affection not only in Cambridge but all over the world.”

Oxford University also commemorated the late scientist, tweeting: “We’re very proud to call Stephen Hawking an alumnus of Oxford, and enormously saddened by his passing.”


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Hawking’s influence appears to have no bounds. Worldwide, the cosmologist has been a source of inspiration, which was aided through recent depictions of his life on television and in film, such as the Oscar-winning film, ‘The Theory of Everything’, making Hawking’s incredible story increasingly accessible.

Eddie Redmayne, who was awarded an Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everything’, honoured who he called “a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”

The scientific community around the world rushed to honour Hawking and his astonishing contributions to physics. Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted: “His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake.” NASA, too, paid their respects on Twitter, saying “May you keep flying like superman in microgravity” in reference to Hawking’s 2014 comments to astronauts aboard the International Space Station.”

On Twitter, people have expressed admiration and sadness: the hashtag #RIPStephenHawking has been used over 14,000 times, while some tributes have received over 100,000 likes, and tens of thousands of retweets.

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