Tribute: Physicist Stephen Hawkings dies at 76, same day Einstein was born


If there were ranks for Mortality Jinxes, Stephen Hawkings would surely be a Grand Master. Today, we mourn him; he was truly a rare breed.

A lot of us know him from the movies “Star Trek,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “The Simpsons”. He played himself in these movies and that tells us how well known and widely recognised he was.

Beyond his short dalliance with the movie industry, he was a theoretical physicist like Albert Einstein who was born exactly 138 years ago today. He was also born on the 300th death anniversary of Galileo Galilei, another great physicist. Tell me you are not creeped out already.

It’s widely known that he was fascinated with black holes and the understanding of creation. It takes a special type of geek to consider unravelling the universe itself. Honestly, the things these geeks bother themselves over!! O su mi!

Hawkings was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS.

In simple vernacular, he could only move a few fingers, and yet went on to author several books – a marvel! “A Brief History of Time”, “The Universe in a Nutshell”, and several others books.

This is thanks to science and technology which also allowed him to have a speech synthesiser. Despite being an English genius, the synthesiser curiously had an American accent.

What is a Viva Naija article if we do not glance inwards and ask certain questions? For example, how many able brains are wasting away in nations all over Africa, simply because we do not honour the sanctity of each and every life? How many physically challenged persons can boast of living opportunities in Nigeria? Do we even recognise that they have something to contribute?
As Hawkings would say “For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen.” In honour of Hawkings, we must be aware of those who are forced by disability to live in inhumane conditions. We need to listen to them and fight for them to be heard.

What if Hawkings was born in Nigeria? What if he never won $3 Million dollars for his theory on black holes? Would he even have stepped into Cambridge, not to talk of becoming a Professor? These are fundamental questions that we must reflect on as we mourn and celebrate this gift to humanity.

The gift he leaves behind is much more than all the physics theories he lived and worked with. The gift is that he showed us that every human has something to contribute. We all have the seed of greatness. The moment we start to appreciate the sanctity of life for even the weakest members of our society, the closer we come to development.

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Rest in Peace Stephen Hawkings.


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