Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos
Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, has died early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.
曾在轮椅上漫游宇宙，思考万有引力的本质和宇宙的起源，成为人类意志和好奇心象征的剑桥大学物理学家、畅销书作家斯蒂芬·W·霍金(Stephen W. Hawking)，于周三凌晨在英国剑桥的家中去世，享年76岁。
His death was confirmed by a spokesman for Cambridge University.
“Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world,” Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, said in an interview.
“自阿尔伯特·爱因斯坦之后，没有哪位科学家能如此吸引公众的想象，并得到全世界几十亿人的喜爱，”纽约市立大学(City University of New York)理论物理学教授加来道雄(Michio Kaku)在一次采访中说。
Dr. Hawking did that largely through his book “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” published in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies and inspired a documentary film by Errol Morris. The 2014 film about his life, “The Theory of Everything,” was nominated for several Academy Awards and Eddie Redmayne, who played Dr. Hawking, won the best-actor Oscar.
而这些，都主要归功于霍金1988年出版的《时间简史——从大爆炸到黑洞》(A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes)。这本书卖出了1000多万册，并启发了埃罗尔·莫里斯(Errol Morris)的一部纪录片。关于他的生平的2014年电影《万物理论》(The Theory of Everything)获奥斯卡多项提名，霍金的扮演者埃迪·雷德梅恩(Eddie Redmayne)还赢得了奥斯卡最佳男主角。
Scientifically, Dr. Hawking will be best remembered for a discovery so strange that it might be expressed in the form of a Zen koan: When is a black hole not black? When it explodes.
What is equally amazing is that he had a career at all. As a graduate student in 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was given only a few years to live.
That work led to a turning point in the history of modern physics, one that played itself out in the closing months of 1973 on the walls of his brain when Dr. Hawking set out to apply quantum theory, the weird laws that govern subatomic reality, to black holes. In a long and daunting calculation, Dr. Hawking discovered to his befuddlement that black holes — those mythological avatars of cosmic doom — were not really black at all. In fact, he found, they would eventually fizzle, leaking radiation and particles, and finally explode and disappear over the eons.
Nobody, including Dr. Hawking, believed it at first — that particles could be coming out of a black hole. “I wasn’t looking for them at all,” he recalled in an interview in 1978. “I merely tripped over them. I was rather annoyed.”
That calculation, in a thesis published in 1974 in the journal Nature under the title “Black Hole Explosions?,” is hailed by scientists today as the first great landmark in the struggle to find a single theory of nature — to connect gravity and quantum mechanics, those warring descriptions of the large and the small, to explain a universe that seems stranger than anybody had thought.
The discovery of Hawking radiation, as it is known, turned black holes upside down. It transformed them from destroyers to creators — or at least to recyclers — and wrenched the dream of a final theory in a strange, new direction.
“On the other hand,” he added, “if we send someone off to jump into a black hole, neither he nor his constituent atoms will come back, but his mass energy will come back. Maybe that applies to the whole universe.”
Dennis W. Sciama, a cosmologist and Dr. Hawking’s thesis adviser at Cambridge, called Hawking’s Nature paper “the most beautiful paper in the history of physics.”
宇宙学家、霍金的剑桥论文导师丹尼斯·W·夏马(Dennis W. Sciama)把霍金在《自然》上发表的论文称为“物理学史上最美的文章”。
Edward Witten, a theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, said: “Trying to understand Hawking’s discovery better has been a source of much fresh thinking for almost 40 years now, and we are probably still far from fully coming to grips with it. It still feels new.”
普林斯顿高等研究院(Institute for Advanced Study)的理论家爱德华·威登(Edward Witten)表示：“为了更好地理解霍金而做的努力，在将近40年的实践中一直是许多新鲜思想的来源，而我们可能还远远没能完全理解它。感觉仍然是新的。”
In 2002, Dr. Hawking said that he wanted the formula for Hawking radiation to be engraved on his tombstone.
He was a man who pushed the limits — in his intellectual life, to be sure, but also in his professional and personal lives. He traveled the globe to scientific meetings, visiting every continent, including Antarctica; wrote best-selling books about his work; married twice; fathered three children; and was not above appearing on “The Simpsons,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation” or “The Big Bang Theory.”
他是一个超越了极限的人——在他的智力生活中当然如此，然而在他职业和个人生活中也一样。他环游全球参加科学会议，到访过包括南极洲在内的所有大洲；写过有关自己的研究的畅销书；结过两次婚；养育了三个孩子；还曾出现在《辛普森一家》(The Simpsons)、《星际迷航：下一代》(Star Trek: The Next Generation)以及《生活大爆炸》(The Big Bang Theory)等剧集中。
He celebrated his 60th birthday by going up in a hot-air balloon. The same week, he also crashed his electric-powered wheelchair while speeding around a corner in Cambridge, breaking his leg.
In April 2007, a few months after his 65th birthday, he took part in a zero-gravity flight aboard a specially equipped Boeing 727, a padded aircraft that flies a roller-coaster trajectory to produce fleeting periods of weightlessness. It was a prelude to a hoped-for trip to space with Richard Branson’s VirginGalactic company aboard SpaceShipTwo.