Why Stephen Hawking Still Matters on His 76th Birthday

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Why Stephen Hawking Still Matters on His 76th Birthday

Stephen Hawking, the physicist who rewound the universe and skimmed boosted particles from the hot boundary regions of black holes, turns 76  (Jan. 8).

In addition to being a world-renowned cosmologist, Hawking has become something of a pop culture icon. He’s a striking figure: a genius curled up in a body largely immobilized by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He’s supported by an advanced wheelchair, and communicates to the world through a rare and specialized system that converts the movements of a single muscle in his cheek into speech. In that mode, he appeared on „Star Trek: The Next Generation,“ „The Simpsons“ and „The Big Bang Theory.“

But Hawking’s most lasting legacy will be as the most important physicist of the second half of the 20th century — a researcher who took the earlier works of figures like Albert Einstein and Werner Heisenberg and knitted them together into something approaching…

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