Stephen Hawking has died. At age 76 and in the tranquility of his residence in Cambridge. The most well-known and recognized physicist of the world left unannounced and in full professional activity. Active until the end, the intellectual heir of Einstein has not stopped, until just a few days ago, from participating in talks, colloquia, interviews, seminars and debates on all kinds of issues, from the origin of the Universe to black holes, singularities , artificial intelligence or the convenience, or not, of revealing our presence to hypothetical extraterrestrial civilizations.
Great physicist and survivor. Diagnosed of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at age 22, Hawking has developed his entire scientific career under the shadow of that terrible disease. 54 long years of survival (another milestone in his resume), during which he gradually lost the mobility and muscle functions of a corpse weaker body: first were the legs, then the voice, the use of the hands , the respiratory functions, the possibility of feeding itself …
Hawking, however, never gave up. And fought with technology to each and every one of their physical deficiencies as they were presented. A wheelchair specially designed for him, a voice synthesizer built into a computer that could handle with the pressure of a single finger, a tracheotomy as a “shortcut” so that air could reach his lungs directly and food to his stomach … The fight has been tremendous, but not even that managed to erase from his face that half mocking smile that characterized him.
Hawking not only managed to overcome the disease, but he defeated it on all fronts. His brain never stopped working, nor did his sharp wit stop showing itself whenever possible. He always had an ironic comment at the tip of his fingers, ready to shoot himself in the middle of any interview or conference. He laughed at himself as the most, and approached with the purest British humor even the deepest scientific questions. “The best proof that travel in time is not possible,” he once said, “is that we are not invaded by legions of tourists from the future.”