He was an icon and inspiration to people everywhere in the universe. Stephen Hawking has died 55 years after being told he had 2 years to live.
Everyone knows of his brilliance, though few can understand it. The legendary scientist fostered curiosity, even in the Tri-State.
“He made ‘geekdom’ cool,” says Mitch Lumen. He’s an astronomer at the Evansville Museum. He’s as fascinated by space as Hawking, though admittedly far less knowledgeable. Aren’t we all?
Hawking’s laboratory was the universe that he toured from a wheelchair. He didn’t use telescopes or scientific instruments, he explored everything with his mind.
He is the face of genius and called by many today’s Einstein, but Lumen believes he is an icon for something much bigger.
“The kinds of knowledge that Stephen Hawking opened up really did change our understanding of things that are far beyond our everyday life,” Lumen says.
As a pioneer of space exploration, Hawking defied the odds living with ALS for most of his adult life.
Assistant professor of physics at the University of Southern Indiana, Dr. Eric Greenwood wouldn’t be where he is today without him.
“When I was an undergrad, what convinced me to be a physics major was his book, Universe in a Nutshell,” Greenwood says.
Hawking didn’t just study science – he invented it.
“Back when he started, there was the big bang theory and that was about it,” adds Greenwood.
Lumen says the value of Hawking goes even further than his contributions to science “People shouldn’t limit themselves to what they think they can achieve, they should strive for what they want to achieve.”
Hawking’s family says he died peacefully at home in Cambridge, England at 76 years-old.
He lived a life with limitations that never held him back, making young boys and girls dreams come true. It showed anyone can literally reach for the stars.
(This story was originally published March 14, 2018)