By now no doubt everyone has heard of Stephen Hawking‘s passing and for the last few days I have been pondering on what this meant to me as sort of a nerd with an interest in exotic physics.
Unfortunately, the first things that always came to my mind aside from his cameo in one of the Star Trek – TNG episodes was a slew of godawful movies about his life, from Eddie Redmayne‘s typical terrible overacting in The Theory of Everything to lesser know productions that have been dusted off from the archives and ran in late night programming on TV ever since the news hit us. Likewise, the mere thought of Mr. Hawking ever having appeared in the abomination that is The Big Bang Theory made me shudder once again. Just plain creepy. Then I remembered some of his older interviews that showed his true funny bones, which made me feel a bit better. It’s endearing and oddly charming in a way.
Another thing I realized when watching the endless re-runs of cosmology and particle physics documentaries in his honor is how one-sided it all was/ is. There can be no doubt that he was one of the greatest minds of this century, but like people forget that like Einstein thought quantum physics were nonsense at first, Hawking way too often was unaccepting of other scientists’ achievements in his field. It took him forever to even accept the idea of dark matter, much less fully embrace it. So say what you will, like all geniuses he certainly had his dark side, too.
Regardless, there can be no denying that his body of work has changed our perception of some things forever and I’d imagine in the next few years we’ll hear about one or the other surprise when people dig through his unpublished works. Personally I never shared his “Humankind needs to go to space to survive.” views, though, strange as this may seem for a sci-fi person. There’s so much too fix on this little blue ball still… That said, it sure would have been interesting to hear his opinions on some of these things. With the James Webb Space Telescope about to be launched (if and whenever that may actually finally happen) and on the verge of other breakthrough discoveries I’m sure he would have had to say a lot about it and, which ultimately is his greatest achievement, in a way that we pea brains can understand it. He will be missed!