Cambridge, England, Mar 15, 2018 / 09:27 am
The death of Stephen Hawking this week prompted a leading Catholic scientist to reflect on the life of the famed physicist, including his "astonishing" contributions to physics and his lifelong atheism.
"He was of course a very great physicist and one of the greatest physicists of his generation," Stephen M. Barr, a particle physics and cosmology researcher who is a professor at the University of Delaware, told CNA. "He made several major contributions to the understanding of gravity and the big bang and the black holes that will be remembered as long as physics is known."
Hawking, a Cambridge University physicist, passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 76. Author of the bestselling 1988 book "A Brief History of Time," he became a symbol of science in pop culture, appearing on shows like "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "The Simpsons."
In 1963, as a 21-year-old graduate student, Hawking he learned that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular disease known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Doctors expected him to live only a few years.