Stephen Hawking, who as of yesterday is ‘traveling’ the stars that he so loved and studied, was not only a scientific genius, who with his discoveries changed our understanding of the world. He was also a model of will power, a brilliant example of human capabilities, and a symbol for all, but especially for those facing special challenges and capabilities.
His enormous scientific contribution is that he managed with his theories to help us understand the world that surrounds us.
His interests, despite his health problems, were not limited to discovering how space time and the universe work. He was concerned until the end with our own “extant” world and the problems of humanity, and he had no qualms about expressing his opinion about the ignorance and greed of our leaders.
He did not hesitate to oppose Brexit, or to criticise Trump over his stance on climate change, noting that he is leading the planet to the edge of the abyss.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge,” he often stressed. He himself was a living example of the quest, of research, and perpetual revision.
Fixed to his wheelchair, he tried to look beyond his problems and to sensitise the youth, admonishing them to, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe.”
“Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it,” he added.
Indeed, that is what he himself did until the very end. Despite his problems, he never for a moment stopped working, traveling the world to popularise his ideas, delivering lessons in will power and life, but also remarking on political and social issues, stressing at every opportunity that nations should build bridges and not walls between them.