Stephen Hawking is known to the public for two things. He authored a book in 1998 called “A Brief History of Time” that was a runaway, international bestseller and propelled him into the status of a scientist celebrity. He also suffered from an autoimmune disease from his early 20s that put him in a wheelchair and robbed him of his voice. Most people know his computer-generated voice that he controlled with eye blinks.

Within the physics community, Hawking is known for his theories on black holes and space-time that have advanced human understanding of the universe.

He is perhaps one of the greatest scientists in history, up there with Einstein and Newton, who nevertheless did not win a Nobel Prize. His body was confined by his disability, but his mind ran free. When he was diagnosed with his disease, he was given two years to live. He lasted for decades, a full human lifetime and the world and science were the gainers.

Accolades from all over the world

Hawking’s passing at the age of 76 was marked, not only from the world of science but from Popular Culture. The most memorable words were from Neil deGrasse Tyson, who gave Hawking a send-off as only he could.

A fixture in popular culture

Hawking often showed up on television shows such as “The Simpsons,” “Futurama,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” One of the most memorable appearances was on Trek where he was depicted as playing a poker game with Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Commander Data.

A man of the far left and an atheist

Hawking harbored politics from the far left, supporting Britain’s Labour Party, and expressing disdain for conservatives, proof perhaps that genius in one area does not guarantee common sense in another. He was also an atheist, dismissing ideas of God and an afterlife as “fairy tales.” One, therefore, has the amusing image of Hawking now wondering how to reconcile where he must be now and his previous understanding of science.

The joke seen on social media has him trying to prove to God to His face that He should not exist.

Space colonies and AI

Hawking was an advocate of the colonization of space, the idea being that it is the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race against a planet-wide catastrophe such as nuclear war or an asteroid strike.

He also warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence, suggesting that humans may be building our replacements in the form of self-aware robots and computers. Hawking was always thinking about the future, even as he graced the present with his existence.