Students take up physics inspired by Hawking books

Students take up physics inspired by Hawking books

Students take up physics inspired by Hawking books

Count the number of popular science books in your home library. A handful? Less than that?  

For a lot of lay readers, Stephen Hawking is the only 'science writer' in their reading universe. Such was his connect with his bestselling A Brief History of Time. His memoir is called My Brief History.

The man who travelled through the cosmos, albeit in a wheelchair, unlocked one of the greatest mysteries of the universe: black holes. But for non-scientists, he brought the universe and science closer -- in a language they understood.

"His death occurred on the day Einstein was born, and that is a strange coincidence," says Sharath Ananthamurthy, professor of physics.  For him, Hawking symbolised a human who could reach far from a wheelchair.

"He opened up new ways of radical thoughts for physicists when they were used to conventional ways of viewing the expanse of the universe. He also made tremendous contributions in the expansion of science in the popular imagination," says Sharath Ananthamurthy.

The huge connect Hawking had with the young went beyond 'black holes' to his inimitable sense of humour. The victory of mind over matter won him fans all over the world.

"As a teacher of physics, I encounter every year a massive number of students who have read his books, seen television shows on him and his works, and discussed his books with friends. And that has been their link to getting into physics," says Sharath. "They immediately connect with the larger reality and want to do gravitational physics."

Soumya, executive administrator, Cisco Systems, like many, calls him the epitome of perseverance and determination.

"His theory of the emission of Hawking radiation from black holes was perhaps one of the first ever examples of a theory that synthesised at least to some extent quantum mechanics and general relativity," she says.  "As a scientist, he gave us new dimensions and will continue to guide generations," she observes."  

"It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love," Hawking had famously put it.

"What he had done is inspire a large group of young students' imagination. Although he didn't win the Nobel (which will remain controversial), what he has done to popularise science, astronomy or physics -- is as immeasurable as the expanse of the universe itself," says Sharath.