Thursday, March 15, 2018

STEPHEN HAWKING, R.I.P. | Selected Obituaries, Links

Stephen Hawking (Univ, Oxon),
Stephen W. Hawking (Univ, Oxon) was born on January 8, 1942 and died on March 14, 2018.

Prof. Neil Comins, an astronomer at the  University of Maine, 

remembers presenting a paper to Hawking and others. (Comins is a cousin of my wife Alice, whose mother was born Grace Comins.) With his permission, I quote his recollection:

I first met Stephen in the late 1970s. I was working on my Ph.D. thesis in Cardiff, Wales. I shared some results with my thesis advisor, Bernard F. Schutz [now director of the Max Planck Institute at Cambridge]. The next day Bernard came to see me, saying, "I've arranged for you to present your results to Stephen Hawking and his group at Cambridge." It would be the first talk I ever gave about my research.
A few weeks later, I took the train to Cambridge and presented my work. Stephen was smiling through the talk. There was some debate about the results, but he ended it by saying that he believed they were correct. He was right and five years later, S. Chandrasekhar cited that work in his 1983 Nobel prize lecture. 
Back then, Stephen was able to control his motorized wheel chair and he zoomed around Cambridge. Everyone just had to get out of his way! I had dinner that evening with Hawking and his family. I have a vague recollection that someone said the home they lived in was also where Isaac Newton once lived. 
My nephew Chris Oakley earned his BA-MA and DPhil in Physics from Oxford and took the Physics Tripos at Cambridge. He remembers seeing Hawking in Cambridge and at a seminar in Oxford. Chris says (I quote by permission): 
Hawking only really got into his stride at Cambridge. I used to see him in his wheelchair in the street in Cambridge when I was there in 1980-1981, but the first time I went to a seminar of his was about a year later at the Rutherford-Appleton laboratory near Oxford. He still had his voice then, but it was near-incomprehensible and a graduate student was translating for us.
-New York Times Obituary
-BBC Obituary
-Why did his family move from London to Oxford just before he was born?
Hawking as coxswain for University College's Second Eight.

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