The Faraday Institute conveys its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Prof. Stephen Hawking FRS following his death yesterday [14th March 2018]. Prof. Hawking’s academic achievements have undeniably secured his enduring place amongst the intellectual elite. He will also be remembered for his remarkable personality and approach to life . Despite overwhelming odds, he relentlessly pursued not only his own scientific work but also engaged in communicating science beyond the academy. The many quotes currently circulating serve as reminders of his frequent encouragements to wonder at and explore the secrets of the universe. Despite his ostensibly atheist beliefs, he was ready to engage in science-religion discussions, especially when they concerned the topic of cosmology. Prof. Hawking engaged in a friendly and positive fashion with the activities of The Faraday Institute on several occasions. A notable example was his introductory welcome to a play entitled ‘Let Newton Be!’, a celebration of the life, work and faith of Isaac Newton, which was commissioned in 2009 by the Institute as a contribution to the 800th Birthday celebrations of Cambridge University. Amongst the many accolades which Prof. Hawking can be said to have shared with Newton was the esteemed position of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge. It was therefore particularly fitting that the gala performance of a play about the second holder of that chair was introduced by the seventeenth. A recording of Prof. Hawking’s witty and entertaining introduction can be heard here.
Prof. Hawking’s own work and engagement with the science and religion field typifies the University’s 809-year history, during which time countless scientists, or natural philosophers as they were known in previous centuries, have contributed to a wide-ranging interdisciplinary exploration of the universe. Many consider that this enhances our understanding of the wisdom of God in creation. He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed.