Celebrities & Pop Culture

Reactions To Stephen Hawking’s Death Prove How Truly Beloved He Was

The legendary physicist's legacy goes way beyond science.

Stephen Hawking will forever be remembered for his discoveries, accomplishments, wit and so much more. Hawking passed away on March 14 at the age of 76.

Despite his lifelong devotion to his profession, the scientist wasn’t just beloved in the academic community. His presence extends well beyond his colleagues and fellow scientists, as he made a major impact in pop culture, as well. To prove how massive his impact was, celebrities and other noteworthy figures have been paying tribute to Hawking online since the news of his passing was announced.

Yuri Milner And Stephen Hawking Announce Breakthrough Starshot, A New Space Exploration Initiative
Getty Images | Bryan Bedder

Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, at the age of 21, and was told he had a little over two years to live. Defying the odds, he went on to live for more than five more decades. Over the next 55 years, he’d go on to have three children, make breakthroughs in physics and the study of black holes, become a professor at the University of Cambridge, write books, appear on TV shows, have an Oscar-winning movie made about his life and so much more.

Although Hawking was from the United Kingdom, in 2009, President Obama gave him the Presidential Medial of Freedom, which is the highest honor the United States can give a civilian.

hawking obama photo
Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla

The physicist’s children released released a statement following his death:

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

And clearly, those closest to him aren’t the only ones in mourning. Members of the science community quickly took to Twitter to pay tribute Hawking, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, who wrote, “His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure.”

NASA honored the scientist by writing, “His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we and the world are exploring.”

Astronaut Scott Kelly called his death, “a loss for all humanity.”

He’ll be remembered from a pop culture standpoint, too. In 2012, he appeared on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory.” On Wednesday, the cast and crew of the show wrote, “Thank you for inspiring us and the world.”

Hawking made four appearances on “The Simpsons” over the years, with his first being in 1999. The show’s executive producer Matt Selman delared him “the most intelligent guest star” in the show’s nearly 30-year history.

Seth MacFarlane wrote a tweet pointing out how much of a gift Hawking’s life was. “When a brilliant scientific mind like Stephen Hawking also happens to be a great popularizer of science, it’s a gift to the world,” the “Family Guy” creator wrote.

Even Katy Perry tweeted about losing the scientist. “[T]here’s a big black hole in my heart hours before Pi day,” she wrote.

Hawking passed away on Pi Day, which also happens to be same date Albert Einstein was born, which many people online found quite fitting.

In a 2011 interview in which he denied the possibility of an afterlife, the scientist told The Guardian, “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

And in his 76 years of life, he was able to accomplish more than he even knew, touching the lives of so many. He will be sorely missed.