Tenerife mourns its favourite and most famous astrophysicist visitor as Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

Tenerife’s astronomers, scientists, and politicians have all today expressed their sadness at the news of Stephen Hawking’s death, peacefully, at 76 years of age. The world-famous astrophysicist had been in Tenerife on several occasions, most notably for the Starmus conferences in which he spoke about his personal life, gave scientific papers, and even joined the stage with rock musicians. “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet“, he once said, saying that he loved Tenerife because of its climate and clear skies which always allowed everyone, even the least scientifically minded, to see and try to understand the wonder of the universe.

The management at the Santa Cruz auditorium where Hawking took the stage more than once expressed sadness at the news, calling the great man one of the best scientific minds in the world. Involcan and the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology wished him a safe journey, saying “see you on the other side, Professor“. The Policía Nacional drew attention to his focus on humanity and love, as well as on relativity and black holes: DEP, they said, Descanse en paz (Rest in Peace). The Museum authorities here thanked him for all he had done for them and for contributing to spreading the word about science in the Canaries, and wished him a sincere and emotional farewell.

Hawking is quoted as saying “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” There is no doubt that he alleviated and illuminated that darkness for many people, explaining the virtually inexplicable with logic, kindness and humour. May he rest in peace, indeed.

5 Comments

  1. In your OBIT you cite the late professor,

    “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

    (And he experienced the failure of this/his computer more immediately than some because of his illness; and also experienced it with more immediacy given his native skills as a mathematician and physicist.)

    So, why do you insult what he stood for and believed in when you write that we – (cited or otherwise)

    “wished him a safe journey, saying “see you on the other side, Professor“

    Why such clap-trap drivel, especially salute the late Professor Hawking?

  2. Author

    oh for heaven’s sake, I have not insulted him at all! I have quoted authorities here, that is all. The very post itelf is because I so honoured him, and the particular authority that issued the quote you object to was the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology … and I imagine that they can phrase their condolences in whichever way they please! It is sad that you think it’s an insult. It is not. I rarely say this sort of thing on here but just get a life rather than pick holes in the feelings expressed by those who honoured him, even if they did so in terms that you deem unscientific.

  3. Very well said Janet.

  4. I could be wrong but it occurs to me as Spain is a religious, catholic country, that they quite possibly disagreed with Professor Hawkins on the subject of God and at times even discussed the subject with him. So maybe they were having a little personal joke with the professor? He did have a wonderful sense of humour after all.

  5. Author

    Good point Viv!

    Thanks, snowy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.