Almost all of you are aware of who Stephen Hawking is and of his recent death on Pi Day, which just happens to be the same day that Albert Einstein was born in 1879. But in case you’ve somehow never heard the name “Stephen Hawking” before, he was a brilliant British cosmologist who shed light on and led groundbreaking research on black holes and the wave function of the universe, among many other developments.
Though Hawking and his findings have been well-known mostly among those who regularly follow STEM, his impact has managed to stretch to every corner of the world and in every discipline. Stephen Hawking lived to be 76 years old. He was told that he would only live for a few more years after being diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21.
ALS would continue to affect Hawking’s body, but it seemed to almost simultaneously free his mind. Stephen Hawking’s life reminds us to not only refrain from taking our bodies for granted but also to remember the untapped power our minds truly have over our futures.
At the end of the day, your body doesn’t figure out whether to choose “B” or “C” on a midterm, whether you want to go out tonight with your friends or how you felt when your pet died. Unlike our bodies, our minds find comfort in performing dynamic calculations and decision-making processes. Our personalities and the way we walk through life and affect others is dictated by the way our minds distinguish connections.
Stephen Hawking accomplished the extraordinary. He served as the connector between what we know as real time and imaginary time — a concept he helped to create. Hawking made the complexities of our universe accessible to anyone who was interested through his multiple published texts and seminars. He helped contribute vastly to what we know, essentially, about both ourselves and our significance in the universe. His passion shone through his interactions and his resilience radiated through his decisions outside of academia.
Hawking’s life has provided a new fire and energy in the STEM community. Very few of us can accomplish a fraction of what he was able to in the time that he did, but he reminds us that we shouldn’t sell ourselves short, especially when the odds are stacked against us. Hawking’s life is a testament to perseverance and living beyond our obstacles no matter their magnitude. There will always be a tomorrow as long as you let today pass first.
As students of UC Berkeley, we go through sincere struggle on a regular basis. We have the fortune to look forward to a new day when these struggles are our only ones. Let’s celebrate Stephen Hawking’s life by acknowledging the importance and untapped potential of our own.
Contact Malvika Singhal at [email protected].