On March 14th, 2018, the world lost one of the most brilliant men in the history of scientific endeavor: Stephen Hawking, a man well regarded as one of the brightest and most brilliant theoretical physicists of our time, and possibly of all time. He is also an inspiration of mine, for many reasons.
For one, the man's genius is unquestionable. He not only contributed to the discovery of black holes, but he also established the idea that they emit radiation, which would eventually cause them to evaporate and vanish. Furthermore, he worked extensively with both quantum mechanics, helping us to understand more of the universe in general. This even went back into his college years, where he supposedly did not even have to look at any other student's work, ever, to understand what was going on. He knew. It was intuitive for him.
Second of all, the man was a brilliant communicator, even with the gradual loss of his ability to speak. He wrote one of the best pop science books of all time, "A Brief History of Time," which is forever one of my favorite books. He constantly was out there promoting theories and the consensus' of the scientific community, regardless of whether or not the public accepted them. He was gifted with great eloquence, eloquence which could change the outlook and future of many people like him, people who have suffered due to their disabilities. His eloquence also could morph simple children into great scientists.
Third, he was, in general, a great man. He was humble and was never the braggadocios type, even when he was vindicated and proven correct. He even made a bet AGAINST his own position on black holes once. He was a great figure who utilized his position as a scientist with a disability to arouse the spirit of other people who were disabled and advocated for them until his final breath. Finally, he showed his compassion for humanity with his concern for the future, and how we must act as a society to prevent damage and destruction.
Hawking, in my eyes, is a hero. An icon of the highest order. He made me turn from a kid interested in science to a hopeful future scientist myself, even if it is not in the same field by any stretch of the imagination. Even as he has left the Earth, his words still resonate with me, and will for the rest of my life. He taught many kids like me to look up at the stars, and not at their feet.
Rest in Peace, Stephen. Beloved by many.