14 March 2018

Stephen HawkingIn 1963, a young 21-year-old man was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease and given a life expectancy of just two years.

Today, an incredible 55 years later, that same man, Stephen Hawking, passed away world-famous for being a world-changing genius, wonderful character and much-loved father and grandfather. Hawking leaves an extraordinary legacy and his findings will continue to impact our greater knowledge of the universe for millennia to come.

Hawking opened the door for the modern study of physics. He showed that black holes aren’t really black and that energy radiates away – called Hawking radiation – where previously it had been believed that nothing could escape a black hole.

For me, the most remarkable thing Stephen Hawking has done is to become known for his extraordinary intellect and personality, not for the tragic tale of a man whose life could have very easily been defined by motor neurone disease. In his tenacity to carry on despite his physical situation, Hawking became a role model. He was an inspiration to people around the globe – both disabled and otherwise. Whilst there’s no denying the tremendous impact that this disease has on people’s lives, Hawking showed that a diagnosis such as his didn’t have to mean a limited life. If the media today are to be believed, the diagnosis instead gave him a renewed will to live.

Stephen Hawking: Inspiring millions

During an interview with The Guardian’s Emma Brockes back in 2005 Hawking said: “It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven’t done badly. People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”

He was outspoken, comedic and his life was not without controversy. But he will be remembered for his extraordinary way of thinking about the universe.

The world needs these thinkers. Those who don’t just ‘think outside the box’; they can’t even think of a box, they’re so far away from it! These thinkers are the innovators, the world changers and the inspirations whose legacies last beyond lifetimes.

Today shouldn’t be a sad day having lost one of the greatest thinkers of our time. Today should be a day of celebration that in 1963, Hawking defied the odds and stayed on the planet to make his mark for 50 years longer than he was given predicted to do so.

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