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Cosmologist Stephen Hawking dies age 76 - Experts respond

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking dies age 76 - Expert responds
14 March 2018


World-renowned cosmologist and pioneer in theoretical physics Stephen Hawking has died in the UK aged 76.

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Roy Kerr, Canterbury Distinguished Professor, University of Canterbury, comments:

"Stephen Hawking. Such an Incredible strength of spirit and character.

I first met him when he was around 25. At that time he walked with difficulty and his diagnosis was poor and he was given only a few more years to live.

50 years later he was still working with help and retained his quirky sense of humour.

My wife and I had dinner with him at his home in May last year and came away marvelling at his sheer positivity.

He was never a victim.

His most notable contribution to science was the conjecture that black holes evaporate.

The world will miss Stephen Hawking and I am very sad to hear of his passing."

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Matt Visser, Professor School of Mathematics and Statistics, Victoria University of Wellington, comments:

"Stephen will be sadly missed by the broader scientific community."

"Stephen Hawking was an incredibly gifted theoretical physicist who spent much of his life fighting a debilitating and ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disease. Scientifically he is best known for the black hole singularity theorems of classical relativity, and for what is now known as Hawking radiation — a subtle quantum effect allowing black holes to very slowly evaporate.

"Classical black holes have been "seen" by astronomers — certainly the astronomers "see" things that are extremely cold, dark, and heavy — and at some stage you run out of reasonable alternatives. Quantum evaporation of general relativity black holes has not yet been seen; the numbers make the effect far too tiny for current astrophysical observations. (Unless we get lucky and a micro-black hole undergoes a final burst of quantum evaporation reasonably close by; but just not too close.) Experiments with analogue black holes, not using gravity itself but instead looking at quantum particles trapped by other means, are more promising.

"Stephen Hawking wrote approximately 800 scientific articles over his career, and has had a tremendous influence in high-energy physics (quantum field theory), classical and quantum gravity (general relativity), cosmology, and astrophysics.

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