This month, the world lost a giant. Prof Stephen Hawking, the Galaxy’s best-known scientist and most unlikely cultural icon, died on Wednesday 14 March at his home in Cambridge. We’ve spent the days since speaking to those who knew Hawking and one clear theme emerges – Hawking was a stubborn man. Of course, he was funny and smart, that was clear for the world to see. But perhaps, to those of us watching from afar, his radiance hid the vital ingredient to his genius: true grit.
But as the number of words he could communicate per minute dwindled, his jokes never did. It was this same resolve that would drive him, sometimes to the exacerbation of his colleagues, to spend years writing and rewriting his books so that he could share the elegance of the Universe with others. And ultimately it was this sheer strength of will, rather than a single eureka moment, that would propel him through the maths that underlined his work.
In this week’s Science Focus Podcast we speak to four people who met Prof Stephen Hawking to tell us about his life, his work, and his legacy: physicist Leonard Mlodinow, who worked with Hawking on two books, Christophe Galfard, a student of Hawking at Cambridge University, Jim Al-Khalili, the inaugural winner of the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication, and Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, who was two years behind Hawking at Cambridge University.
Listen to more podcasts:
- Exploding Head Syndrome
- Adventures in brain enhancement
- The future of humanity with Michio Kaku
- How emotions are made
- The London Fatberg + Why you should break up with your phone
- How plants can survive space missions and Chernobyl