Memories of a Truth-Seeker: Stephen Hawking 1942-2018

March 16, 2018

Andy Strominger, Stephen Hawking, and Don Page at a 1992 conference on black holes in Aspen, Colorado

by Andrew Strominger,
Gwilll E. York  Professor of Physics, Harvard University
March 14, 2018

I had the good fortune to meet Stephen Hawking in 1982. This was to be the beginning of a long and vibrant scientific interaction and friendship.  I was fresh out of graduate school and Stephen could still speak in a growly voice. It took me a few days to understand what he was saying but I managed to do it. And there was a lot to say!  Stephen twirled around my Princeton apartment with son Timothy on the footrest of his wheelchair. Probably dangerous but they both had a blast.  This was a harbinger of the Stephen who loved to dance and go clubbing that I got to know later.  He never lost his sense of fun or humor to the very end.

What distinguished Stephen from the rest of our pack when I first met him, and ever since, was not his insane brilliance or his consummate knowledge of every last detail of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. It was his passion in the search for the truth. This helped keep him alive and in good spirits through unimaginable and unrelenting physical challenges. Einstein once said “Of all the communities available to us, there is not one I would want to devote myself to except for the society of the true seekers, which has very few living members at any one time.” Einstein would have counted Stephen as a member...

The full essay will appear in Scientific American shortly.

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