“I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”
Today we mark the passing of one of the greatest minds of our time. Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. His book A Brief History of Time helped millions of people grasp the origins of the universe. I read it for the first time when I was 15 years old. It was then I began to realize the limitations posed by the body we are tasked to explore the cosmos with is no match for the three pound marvel suspended inside of our skulls. He applied quantum theory to Einstein’s theory of relativity and made a breakthrough discovery of the nature of black holes. Hawking did all of this while living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (more commonly referred to as ALS). He was confined to a wheelchair as the disease progressed and he spoke with a synthesizer. He established a legacy that will stand the test of time despite the life he had been dealt. The mountain of challenges daily life no doubt had laid before him, and being trapped in a body that had him at the mercy of those around him, Professor Hawking didn’t take himself too seriously. He made guest appearances on The Simpsons and Star Trek: The Next Generation. There are numerous stories of Hawking spending 6 or 7 minutes typing something out and it would end up being a joke.
Not only was Professor Hawking able to beat the odds medical professionals gave him, he went on to get married, visit every continent on Earth, he explored the cosmos unabashedly looking for the answers that extended far beyond anything our physical bodies could ever experience. His life, the effect of his discoveries, and accomplishments cannot truly be measured. His spirit was one of fearlessness, inquiry, and dedication. He demonstrated we all have the capacity to be greater than what meets the eye. His larger than life personality brought with it bold statements. We should make effort to never forget it.
“The greatest enemy is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge.”