Oxford is today paying tribute to the world-renowned physicist and former student, Professor Stephen Hawking.
The 76 year-old died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of
Wednesday morning, his family said.
Hawking arrived at Oxford aged 17, where he studied natural sciences at University College. After completing his undergraduate degree in 1962, he went on to gain a Masters and a PhD at Cambridge.
Prof Hawking became one of the world’s leading scientists, whose most notable work led to
significant scientific developments in the understanding of black holes and relativity. He also wrote several popular science books, including the bestselling A Brief History of Time, which has sold over 10 million copies since first being published in 1988.
Hawking achieved all this despite being diagnosed with motor neurone disease while a student, eventually meaning he had to use a wheelchair and communicate using a computerised voice.
University College are flying their flag at half-mast today, in memory of their former student. In a statement posted on their website, the College said: “It is with great sadness that College notes the passing of Professor Stephen Hawking – Univ OM (1959, Physics) and Honorary Fellow … our thoughts are with his loved ones at this time.”
Univ’s JCR President, Maninder Singh Sachdeva told Cherwell: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Prof Stephen Hawking, and as members of Univ, I think we all feel a great sense of pride to think that Hawking started his academic career here.”
Sachdeva also noted how the legacy of Prof Hawking remains important to Univ students today. He said: “[Univ students] have been and will continue to be inspired by the work, determination and passion he displayed during his lifetime. I do not think that Hawking will ever be gone in our eyes, whether we study his scientific discoveries in our degrees, use his words as motivation in our lives, or relive his journey, we have all been touched by his life in one way or another.”
The University have also paid tributes to Prof Hawking. In a tweet, they said: “We’re very proud to call Stephen Hawking an alumnus of Oxford, and enormously saddened by his passing. Our thoughts are with his family. He reminded us all to “be curious”, for there is “always something you can do and succeed at”.”
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and professor of Computer Science at Oxford, said: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit. Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking.”
A condolences book will be opened at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where Prof Hawking worked.