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A Tribute to Stephen Hawking

In the wake of Stephen Hawking’s death, many are remembering him for his renowned intellect and his great accomplishments. Diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, which few survive more than a few years, he lived to the age of 76. Though he became increasingly paralyzed and was confined to a wheelchair for much of his life, he explored the universe with his mind and imagination. Though he had great difficulty communicating, he wrote dozens of scientific papers, gave hundreds of lectures, and wrote A Short History of Time, one of the most popular books of this century. Though his book was understandable by nonscientists, many of Hawking’s theories on the nature of the universe, black holes, and time are understood only by our greatest theoretical physicists.

Stephen Hawking stands among the great scientists, Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Madame Curie, and Einstein. Aristotle gave us a stable universe governed by the laws of nature, which could be understood by observation and reason. Galileo showed that when there was a conflict between science and religious dogma, we should follow science. Though theologians insisted that the Earth was at the center of the Solar System, Galileo  showed with scientific evidence that God made the Solar System with the Sun at the center. Newton discovered the force that held the planets in place and the laws that describe motion. Madame Curie developed  our understanding of radioactive elements, nuclear radiation, and x-rays.

Einstein showed that matter could be converted to energy, and he developed the interrelation between mass, time,  and distance. Einstein may have also save democracy. Though he was a pacifist, he realized the dangers of letting Nazi Germany be first to develop atomic weapons, and he convinced Roosevelt that we should do it first. Stephen Hawking also applied his great mind and his heart to man’s condition. If we’re going to honor him as one of the world’s greatest minds, then we should to pay attention to the lessons and values he spoke about during his time on this planet as noted by Care2Causes:

Climate Change: In Hawking’s later years, no topic seemed to stir him more than climate change. “We’re close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” he said. “The solutions are already known…  We must counter corporate greed and corrupt politicians NOW to give humanity a fighting chance.”

Public Health Care: Diagnosed with motor neurone disease, few survive as long as Hawking did. He credits his longevity to the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK for giving him the care that would have been unaffordable in systems like those that exist in the United States.

Feminism: “I have always supported women’s rights,” said Hawking in an interview. When asked whether science had dictated his outlook on gender equality, he argued that it’s not a matter of science but “general acceptance that women are at least the equals of men.”

Assisted Suicide: Though Hawking seriously considered ending his own life in his young years, he ultimately decided to hold on. Still, that doesn’t mean it made him opposed to euthanasia altogether. He recognizes it as an important option to those who are at the end of their lives.

American Politics: Asked if his brilliant mind could explain how Donald Trump could ever get elected to lead the free world, he simply said, “I can’t.” Some things just defy logic.

Nuclear War: Hawking considers nuclear weapons one of the biggest threats to the survival of the human race. “Technology has advanced at such a pace that this aggression may destroy us all by nuclear or biological war,” Hawking warned.

Scientific Funding and Advancement: It’s not surprising that a scientist would advocate for better scientific funding or to utilize research in public policy.  The future is uncertain, and the best we can do is to gather as much information as we can to best face the challenges of tomorrow.

Though our leaders once based their decisions upon science and evidence, there is a disturbing trend now among our politicians to ignore science. Stephen Hawking believes that if the human race is to survive and prosper, we must base our political decisions on science and reason. He gives us a way to proceed, not only in science, but in national policies. We should honor his ideas.

(C) 2018 J.C. Moore


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