Stars turn out for Stephen Hawking's funeral (Update)

March 31, 2018
Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist, died on March 14 at the age of 76

Film stars, supermodels, comics and astronomers joined Stephen Hawking's family and friends for his funeral in Cambridge Saturday, the city where he dedicated his life's work to unravelling the mysteries of the universe.

The theoretical physicist who captured the imagination of millions around the world died on March 14 at the age of 76.

His death triggered a flood of tributes from Queen Elizabeth II to NASA, reflecting his impact both as a scientist and for his refusal to give up in the face of crippling motor neurone disease.

Hawking was famously an atheist but his children Lucy, Robert and Tim chose the church of St Mary the Great to say their farewell.

"Our father's life and work meant many things to many people, both religious and non-religious," they said, adding that for that reason the funeral was "both inclusive and traditional, reflecting the breadth and diversity of his life".

Hundreds packed the streets and applauded when Hawking's coffin arrived, carried by six porters from his university college, Gonville and Caius.

White lilies representing the universe and white roses for the polar star were placed on Hawking's oak coffin.

The church bell tolled 76 times, once for each year of his life.

Legacy will live forever'

Actor Eddie Redmayne, who played Hawking in the 2014 bio-pic "The Theory of Everything", read from the Bible at the service attended by around 500 people.

Queen guitarist Brian May, model Lily Cole, comic Dara O Briain and US film producer Barbara Broccoli, known for the James Bond movies, were among the mourners.

"He inspired people with the excitement and importance of pure scientific enquiry and was admired and revered for his devotion, as a scholar, to the pursuit of knowledge," Professor Fay Dowker, a former student, told mourners.

"His influence and legacy will live forever."

A thanksgiving service will be held at Westminster Abbey in London on June 15, when Hawking's remains will be buried near the grave of another legendary scientist, Isaac Newton.

Profile of the British physicist Stephen Hawking.

Visionary genius

Among the well-wishers outside, many praised Hawking's achievement in expanding the boundaries of knowledge.

"He's made a major contribution to thinking about space, the black holes, to the whole atmosphere," lawyer Trevor Angle told AFP.

"He has had a major rethinking influence in the way people think about science and the wider world we live in."

Professor Chris Imafidon, who consulted Hawking in 2007 about encouraging higher level mathematics students, said: "He is not just a scientist; he is an inspiration.

"He was very humble, very modest, but his thinking is far, far ahead. Too far for this generation. He sees 100 years in the future.

"That's what is painful because there's nobody that can do that now."

Mike Meylan, a New Zealand mathematics professor visiting Cambridge University, brought his children to explain Hawking's genius.

"We live in a world where so much of what's celebrated is trivial and unimportant and it will pass away," he told AFP.

"But what he contributed will last so much longer."

Robbed of mobility

Hawking was confined to a wheelchair, almost completely paralysed and unable to speak except through his trademark voice synthesiser.

He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease aged 21 and defied predictions that he would only live for a few years, although his rare condition—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—gradually robbed him of his mobility.

But the illness did nothing to dull his mind, and Hawking became one of the world's best-known and most inspiring scientists, known for his brilliance and his wit.

His work focused on bringing together relativity—the nature of space and time—and quantum theory—how the smallest particles behave—to explain the creation of the universe and how it is governed.

But he was also a global star—his 1988 book "A Brief History of Time" was an unlikely worldwide bestseller, and he appeared as himself in television shows from "The Simpsons" to "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

Explore further: Hawking's remains to be buried at Abbey near Newton, Darwin (Update)

Related Stories

World mourns British scientist and cultural icon Hawking

March 14, 2018

World dignitaries, celebrities and academics on Wednesday mourned Stephen Hawking, the British physicist who died aged 76 after a cosmic career in which his mental genius transcended his physical disability to probe the secrets ...

Gifted Colombia kids pay tribute to hero Hawking

March 17, 2018

Gifted children at the Stephen Hawking school in Colombia's capital Bogota have been paying a special tribute to the astrophysicist whose life inspired them to study science.

Stephen Hawking: a brief history of genius

March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, was Britain's most famous modern day scientist, a genius who dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe.

Recommended for you

Muons spin tales of undiscovered particles

April 20, 2018

Scientists at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories are collaborating to test a magnetic property of the muon. Their experiment could point to the existence of physics beyond our current understanding, including ...

Integrating optical components into existing chip designs

April 19, 2018

Two and a half years ago, a team of researchers led by groups at MIT, the University of California at Berkeley, and Boston University announced a milestone: the fabrication of a working microprocessor, built using only existing ...

30 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jd_
1.8 / 5 (15) Mar 31, 2018
No Nobel Prize. Nothing really astounding. Not quite in the same league with Isaac Newton.
mackita
1.4 / 5 (9) Mar 31, 2018
Terry Fox was exceptional runner neither..
RNP
3.9 / 5 (16) Mar 31, 2018
@jd_
You have no class. Your ignorance and lack of respect ARE astounding. You are not in the same league as ANY decent human being.
alexander2468
2 / 5 (4) Mar 31, 2018
Steven has endured what no one has possibly had to endure as we have no imagination of his suffering! But now he is free to return one day and continue life anew, in the mean time rest in peace
mackita
1.7 / 5 (12) Mar 31, 2018
Your ignorance and lack of respect ARE astounding
He's perfectly on spot instead (albeit I wouldn't call the absence of Nobel Prizes a reliable criterion - rather the lack of testable predictions in general). The science advances each funeral as Max Planck once noted.
Anda
3.8 / 5 (14) Mar 31, 2018
Same as @RNP here:
"@jd_ You have no class. Your ignorance and lack of respect ARE astounding. You are not in the same league as ANY decent human being."
synoptic
2.6 / 5 (8) Mar 31, 2018
Why have a ceremony at a church when he believed not in Our Eternal Light?
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (10) Mar 31, 2018
Why have a ceremony at a church when he believed not in Our Eternal Light?

Funerals aren't organized for the deceased (they're dead. they couldn't care less). Funerals are organized for those who are left behind. Some of those who are left behind need this kind of ceremony/reassurance for their psychological well-being.
There's also all those who would wet their pants and start some social media outcry if tradition were not served. Better to pander to them than have them throw their hissy-fits.
synoptic
1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 31, 2018
Why have a ceremony at a church when he believed not in Our Eternal Light?�

Funerals aren't organized for the deceased (they're dead. they couldn't care less). Funerals are organized for those who are left behind. Some of those who are left behind need this kind of ceremony/reassurance for their psychological well-being.
There's also all those who would wet their pants and start some social media outcry if tradition were not served. Better to pander to them than have them throw their hissy-fits.


Let the dead bury the dead.
jd_
1.5 / 5 (15) Mar 31, 2018
Sad. He never achieved greatness. Just popularity.
AllStBob
3.9 / 5 (9) Apr 01, 2018
No Nobel Prize. Nothing really astounding. Not quite in the same league with Isaac Newton.

Isaac Newton didn't win a Nobel Prize either.
AllStBob
3 / 5 (3) Apr 01, 2018
I wonder where they'll put the chair? It should go on display in The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
mackita
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 01, 2018
Hawking wanted his chair serving another disabled person - not his personality cult.
mackita
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 01, 2018
wtf... another duplicated post after single click submit...?
jd_
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 01, 2018
Not even a Nobel Prize to his credit. Even Kip Thorne has a Nobel Prize. Odd that the Brits would choose to bury the ashes of an underachiever like Hawking near such notables as Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey. It's not like they need indoor fertilizer.
TrollBane
3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 01, 2018
JD (Jerk D**cheb@g?): "Sad. He never achieved greatness. Just popularity."
Your multiple envy posts fail to assuage your angst over your failure to achieve either greatness or popularity. What shameless depths will you descend to next in your pathetic quest for validation?
granville583762
3.3 / 5 (3) Apr 01, 2018
Nobel prizes are not for merit ask "Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell", Steven saw above meritless medals, he was living in world where achievement is only in the mind. May he rest in peace.
jd_
2.1 / 5 (8) Apr 01, 2018
206 individuals have received the Nobel Prize in Physics. John Bardeen even received a Nobel Prize in Physics twice. Yet not a single one of those individuals is named Hawking.

But you can bet that few but Hawking published as many books. At least 17. Fancy books with catchy names like "A Brief History of Time" and "A Briefer History of Time" and "My Brief History". The kind of books that attract a collection of weekend pseudoscience rabble because of their fancy color pictures. Coffee table books.

Only Carl Sagan and, maybe, Albert Einstein wrote more books. Of course Sagan was a self-promoting astronomy shill. He is the Coffee Table Book King. Einstein, on the other hand, had a CV. Real theories to his credit. Verifiable theories. Most importantly, Einstein had something important to say.
mackita
5 / 5 (1) Apr 01, 2018
Albert Einstein didn't write any book himself as far as my knowl.. Google-fu goes. He just kindly allowed to collect his letters, essays and lectures by another less valuable contemporaries. We have this stuff common with true heroes of science. Because once you're really good, then everything what you say or write is truly new and unique - and the rest immediately becomes obsolete. This is the price of true originality... :-(
AllStBob
1 / 5 (1) Apr 01, 2018
Not even a Nobel Prize to his credit. Even Kip Thorne has a Nobel Prize.


Kip Thorne only has a Nobel Prize for the discovery of Gravity Waves because Einstein was dead and therefore ineligible.
Uncle Ira
3.5 / 5 (8) Apr 02, 2018
@ JD-Skippy. How you are Cher? Other than being mad about where Hawking-Skippy got laid to rest. I am fine and dandy, thanks for asking.

No Nobel Prize. Nothing really astounding. Not quite in the same league with Isaac Newton.


Newton-Skippy does not have the Nobel's Prize either. Maybe it is a little too soon to judge the impact Hawking-Skippy might have on physics or science. Since he was the working scientist like you are not and was considered first rank by every one of his peers.

Maybe he belongs in the same place with Newton-Skippy and the Darwin-Skippy in the Westminster for the same reason they do, or should we kick them out too because of not having the Nobel's Prize.
jd_
2 / 5 (4) Apr 02, 2018
@Uncle Pedo
I see prison release hasn't stopped you from posting here. Do the police know that you have access to the internet?
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (4) Apr 02, 2018
I see prison release hasn't stopped you from posting here.
Why you think it would? Nothing can stop me Cher, I am bullet-proof. Choot, if I was in a prison I would not wait to get out to postum to you, you NAZI-Skippys bring out the best in me.

Do the police know that you have access to the internet?
I do not know if they do or know if they do not. Why you don't send them note and tell them?

Oh yeah, I almost forget. Do you ever wash your sheet-suits or Hitler uniforms? That's how we know the EU & Plasmatic-Skippys, you are always dirty, tattered and disheveled.
Porgie
not rated yet Apr 02, 2018
Stars have been turning out for billions of years. He even said so.
mackita
not rated yet Apr 02, 2018
mxw
not rated yet Apr 02, 2018
I wonder, did Jeffrey Epstein attend?
cantdrive85
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2018
The guy who sat in the closet typing what Hawking's voicebox said is going to have to get a different job now.
mackita
not rated yet Apr 04, 2018
Stephen Hawking and Gordon Kane: "Should China build the Great Collider?" Not surprisingly, the answer is voiced "yes". For me it's complete waste of money, worth only of destabilization of communist regime.
mackita
not rated yet Apr 04, 2018
Stephen Hawking was a brilliant ambassador for science - IMO this is the main reason, why the mainstream science bothers by Howking so much.. He managed to attract money in its industry..
mackita
not rated yet Apr 07, 2018
Robert G. Jahn writes in his "20th and 21st Century Science: Reflections and Projections":

As we enter the 21st century, science seems poised to execute a similar evolutionary cycle of advancement of their comprehension and relevance. We are opening with a steadily growing backlog of demonstrable physical, biological and psychological anomalies (..) most of which seem incontrovertibly correlated with properties and processes of the human mind, in ways for which our preceding 20th century scientific paradigm has no rational explanations. (..)

Thus, at the dawn of the 21st century, we again find an elite, smugly contented scientific establishment, but one now endowed with far more public authority and respect than that of the prior version. A veritable priesthood of high science controls major segments of public and private policy and expenditure for research, development, construction, production, education and publication throughout the world, and enjoys a cultural trust
..

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.