Astronauts, scientists and celebrities celebrate the life of a ‘colossal mind and wonderful spirit’
- Stephen Hawking dies aged 76
Tributes have started to pour in for Stephen Hawking, the modern British physicist and author who has died aged 76.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world wide web, was one of the first to respond to news of his death, saying on Twitter: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit”.
Nasa also tweeted, saying: “his theories unlocked the universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring.”
“May you keep flying like superman in microgravity.”
University of Cambridge vice-chancellor Professor Stephen Toope said Hawking was an inspiration to millions. “Professor Hawking was a unique individual who will be remembered with warmth and affection not only in Cambridge but all over the world. His exceptional contributions to scientific knowledge and the popularisation of science and mathematics have left an indelible legacy. His character was an inspiration to millions.”
The Planetary Society wrote: “farewell to a beautiful mind”, while astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shared a photo of himself and Hawking. “His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake,” he wrote.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Hawking had “made the world a better place”.
“Professor Stephen Hawking was an outstanding scientist and academic. His grit and tenacity inspired people all over the world,” a tweet on his official page said.
“His demise is anguishing. Professor Hawking’s pioneering work made our world a better place. May his soul rest in peace.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, also tweeted.
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, wrote: “we lost a great one today”.
Many scientists shared their encounters with Hawking over the years. Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell remembered Hawking’s determination to deliver a lecture despite struggling to speak.
Dr Brad Tucker, a research fellow at Mount Stromlo Observatory at the Australian National University said Hawking was not only “a leader in cosmology and astrophysics, but also pushed us all - to challenge ourselves and the unknown.”
“He leaves having inspired many of us and having helped us to tackle the big questions that humans have asked for centuries.”
Greenpeace USA thanked Hawking for helping people understand their place in the universe and for “leaving us in awe and wonder”.
Sean Carroll, a physics professor at US university Caltech, said: “Stephen Hawking was the rare famous scientist who deserved every bit of his fame. A brilliant physicist and an inspirational person. And quite a character.”
US astronaut Chris Hadfield, lamented his death saying: “Genius is so fine and rare. Goodbye Professor Hawking. You inspired us all.” Fellow astronaut Scott Kelly said Hawking’s death was “a loss for all humanity”.
Tributes also came from the entertainment industry.
Errol Morris made the 1991 film A Brief History of Time, which was based on concepts addressed in Hawking’s famous book. Morris wrote that Hawking was “a truly fabulous human being”.
The Foo Fighters said he was a “fucking legend”, while actor Macaulay Culkin paid tribute to “a genius and my favourite Simpsons character”.
Singer Katy Perry noted that Hawking died on Pi Day, the annual celebration of the mathematical constant pi, writing “there’s a big black hole in my heart.” Steven Tyler from band Aerosmith wrote on Twitter: “you changed the world.”
British TV presenter Jonathan Ross said: “the world just dropped a lot of IQ points.”
As news of Hawking’s death spread, images of an empty wheelchair were shared on social media.