Some people will be hoping Professor Stephen Hawking is living in a better place today than the awful reality most humans find themselves inhabiting.
But the physicist would not be among these optimists, because he did not believe in the existence of an afterlife.
The legendary scientist died peacefully today at his home in Cambridge at the age of 76.
‘I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,’ he said during an interview with The Guardian in 2011.
‘I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.’
As a theoretical physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking didn’t invent cool gadgets or unleash bizarre genetically modified organisms upon the world.
But his discoveries helped us gain a deeper understanding of the universe we live in.
His most famous work related to black holes, which have a gravitational pull so huge that not even light can escape them.
He predicted that black holes radiate a very small amount of energy dubbed Hawking Radiation. Although this radiation has never been observed, it radically reshaped scientists’ view of the most destructive objects in the universe.
“Stephen’s ‘eureka moment’ revealed a profound and unexpected link between gravity and quantum theory: he predicted that black holes would not be completely black, but would radiate in a characteristic way,’ said Martin Rees and emeritus professor of cosmology and astrophysics at the University of Cambridge.
This prediction flew in the face of Hawking’s previous claim that black holes could only grow and could never shrink.
He performed a remarkable about turn and said that tiny ‘primordial’ black holes formed at the beginning of the universe could actually explode with the force of one million one-megaton hydrogen bombs.
The physicist said these tiny holes weighed billions of tons but were smaller than an atom.
His calculations found they would get hotter and hotter before exploding dramatically.
The physicist later said black holes were a passage to another universe, raising the possibility that brave humans could use them to visit alternative dimensions.
‘If you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up,’ he said in 2015.
‘There’s a way out.’