How far behind would we be in physics and astronomy if Stephen Hawking never lived?

I don’t want to sound disrespectful to a great physicist and someone who lived against the odds and had a very successful career as a physicist and populariser of science.

However, for perspective, over my career in physics, I never encountered any work by Stephen Hawking, even though I studied and worked in quantum physics related areas.

In contrast, one cannot study physics and not encounter the myriad contributions of Einstein littered throughout many different fields outside of relativity theory. Although that’s hardly a fair comparison.

If I were to compare to say Feynman, then I would say that Hawking’s contribution is less well known, because most students at least learn about Feynman’s path integral formulation of quantum mechanics and Feynman diagrams.

Another great was John Wheeler. Once more, Wheeler seems to pop up throughout quantum mechanics, quantum information, electrodynamics and cosmology. I would rate Wheeler’s influence on physics as significant. Wheeler had so many unique and interesting ideas.

In fairness, I never studied astrophysics, where Hawking may be mentioned. I did study general relativity, but the course never included any of Hawking’s work on black holes.

Overall, I’d rate Hawking as an important scientist who also popularised physics and whose voice and opinions were heard around the world. He had the opportunity to speak out on matters and have people listen to him. His credentials as a physicist were impressive, but not so much that he overshadowed his contemporaries. He made many important contributions to the interaction of quantum mechanics and general relativity and got to name the as yet untested phenomenon of Hawking radiation. He also wrote a best selling book on the nature of time. By any measure he had a stellar career. The fact that he achieved all of that while being profoundly disabled is quite frankly phenomenal!

RIP Stephen Hawking.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Do you think Stephen Hawking was a genius? Did you read any of his works?

#Science #Society #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
Ian Swindale
I've read 3 of Hawking's books and whilst not all the contents are readily understood by someone like myself who never took physics, he clearly spread a knowledge and understanding of physics and cosmology as no-one else has done. Others may be more well-known within the physics community but we never hear about them. I think the writer's discussion of what Hawking did , etc is unfair to Hawking and also shows a double picture of him - However, for perspective, over my career in physics, I never encountered any work by Stephen Hawking, even though I studied and worked in quantum physics related areas." and the final paragraph of the article. A rather churlish article in my view.
Aug 24, 2018 5:19AM
This is a terrible article, filled with personal opinions posited by someone who, rather than dealing with Hawking's contributions, would diminish him to a degree. He readily admits he did not explore much of what would be considered Hawking's forte, so why should his opinion matter? He never answers his own question about how far behind we'd be without Hawking. He is a nobody, more intent on slaying a giant to make himself appear as brilliant. He failed.
Apr 2, 2019 11:47PM
Brendan Brannigan
Very misleading header.
Aug 20, 2018 4:38PM
Rajeev Beohar
Great minds are not judged fairly in their own times but are only enlightened by posterity....
Apr 13, 2020 12:43AM
Donna Smith
Never read any of his books ..and don't want to..
Dec 20, 2019 2:20PM
Rave Cooper
Nope. All theory
Nov 18, 2019 7:09PM
I respect all scientists and have read Hawking's Theory of Time. What he achieved with so much physical impediment is admirable. Einstein is on his own category, simply super genius. We need to honor all these brainiacs.
Sep 4, 2019 9:51PM
hector tubens
Interesting information.
Aug 18, 2019 9:46PM
Sounds like sour grapes!! Too bad.
May 10, 2019 2:48AM
Dani Smith
John Stepp, so why did you read the article?
Apr 5, 2019 2:24PM
Don Racette
Chubb Michaub Are you humming a song to your wife??
Feb 28, 2019 5:05PM
Gayle Rutledge Arnold
I don't believe that you can say that we would be any farther along with or further behind without this great man, as you don't know if he had not been around who would have stepped up and possibly explored and determine the same things that he did. Rest in peace!
Aug 24, 2018 12:01AM
Jun Soriao
The man that just passed away metamorphosed from a healthy and quick-witted individual to become an eminent scientist of note. The Lucasian chair, once held by Isaac Newton, could not have been bestowed upon him had not for his brilliant mind. His books (God Made the Integers and Standing on the Shoulder of Giants) are a reservoir of knowledge that adorn my private library. Such are worth reading because the tomes exposes my limitations in the field of mathematics.
Aug 21, 2018 6:26PM
JP Dayes
We the people for the people!
Aug 21, 2018 5:31PM
Shemeela Sasikumar
Interesting facts about Stephen Hawking.
Aug 21, 2018 12:10AM
Minna Rasmussen
Not into physic
Aug 20, 2018 9:09PM

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