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Hawking Was Explicit About What He Wanted on Tombstone

More on his death, which falls on a notable day
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2018 12:21 PM CDT
How Hawking, Einstein, and Galileo's Births, Deaths Align
In this March 3, 1989 file photo British astrophysicist Dr. Stephen Hawking, 47, answers newsmen with the help of his computer and the assistance of his then wife Jane, in Paris.   (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)

(Newser) – Today is Pi Day, and in the wake of Stephen Hawking's March 14 death, much ado is being made about what else 3/14 marks. Mashable reports that it also overlaps with the birth of Albert Einstein, who was born on this day in 1879. As for Hawking's own birth, it also isn't without its own cosmic coincidence: He was born Jan. 8, 1942, exactly 300 years after the date of Galileo's death. Amid a sea of Hawking-themed reporting and remembrances, we've rounded up the most interesting tidbits and the most thought-provoking pieces:

  • His tombstone: The Independent reports that Hawking had been explicit about what he wanted on his tombstone: Hawking’s equation, a formula for black hole entropy. He said as much in 2002, per a New York Times report at the time, and a longtime collaborator confirmed Hawking's desire to ANSA on Wednesday. IFLScience offers an explanation of the equation.

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  • Four in the marriage: In 2015, Hawking's first wife Jane discussed their marriage, from his family's gloomy proclamations it would never last to the relationships they formed outside of it. She said, "The truth was, there were four partners in our marriage. Stephen and me, motor neurone disease and physics." Read the interview here.
  • His condition: Diagnosed with ALS at 21, Hawking was expected to live 2 years. How he instead made it 55 more is due in part to his sense of humor. A Washington Post piece delves into why and includes a quirky anecdote about a champagne party Hawking once threw for time travelers.
  • Where is he now? The Post also rounds up Hawking's comments on religion, God, and the afterlife. Here's one: "I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful."
  • Underrated: At the Atlantic, Amanda Gefter writes that for a long time she thought Hawking was overrated. But then "I learned that in the 1970s he had performed a remarkable calculation, in an attempt to disprove the work of another physicist who had annoyed him." It totally changed her opinion of him, and she explains in a very approachable way what he ended up proving.
  • No Nobel: For all his brilliance, Hawking never won a Nobel Prize, and the AP explains why.
(Read more Stephen Hawking stories.)

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