Today, the world was jolted by news of the loss of one of the greatest minds to have ever lived. Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76 peacefully at his home in Cambridge, and most of the world acknowledges the gaping black hole left in his absence. Although Hawking would want to be remembered for his scientific accomplishments and celebrated by his peers in academia, he was also one of the biggest geek icons ever, and we’d like to celebrate the side of him that he may have been the least proud of, but which was how us lesser mortals also got to enjoy him.
He will forever be an integral part of the pop culture of our generation, and we’d like to reminisce about the moments he won our hearts over.
The visionary astrophysicist was also a huge fan of the Star Trek franchise and appeared in season 6 episode 1 as a hologram of himself – making him the only person to ever play himself in the entire Star Trek universe. The particular scene involved him playing a poker match with Newton and Einstein, and features some hilarious exchanges between the three. See it for yourself:
Reportedly, during the set tour, while this episode was being shot, he requested and was allowed to, sit in the captain’s chair of the Enterprise-D. It’s not like anyone in their right mind ever said no to a request by Stephen Hawking, but it was the mark of a humble man who asked instead of demanded.
Also, when he saw the warp drive, he reportedly said, “I’m working on that”. A true trekkie! While we merely pontificate about plot holes, he was busy figuring out how the universe worked so that he could play a part in making the Enterprise a reality.
The Big Bang Theory
The American sitcom had always been targeted at geeks with numerous references to famous names in science, including Hawking. That is until Stephen Hawking actually showed up on it! In Season 5 Episode 21 title ‘The Hawking Excitation’, Hawking makes a brief cameo as himself only to point out an error in Sheldon Cooper’s scientific research paper. But that wouldn’t be the only time he was on the show, making numerous voice-over and digital appearances later and finally appearing on the episode ‘The Proposal Proposal’ to advise Sheldon on his proposal to Amy. And don’t even get us started on his amazing sense of humor on the show!
There is perhaps no truly famous name of our age that hasn’t made an appearance on The Simpsons. Stephen Hawking first appeared on the show in 1999 to rescue Lisa from trouble and made numerous appearances in later episodes. But perhaps his most notable appearance on the show would be his animated self-performing a rap scene with New Zealand comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords.
Also by Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Futurama is an animated science fiction sitcom familiar to all of us. Stephen Hawking voiced himself on the show first in 2010 in an episode with Al Gore and went on to do three more episodes. But his most memorable appearance comes not from an episode, but from this promo for the smartphone game for the show, which also features George Takei, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye
In a British Telecom advert, Stephen Hawking shared one of his greatest quotes:
Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking
This clip reportedly moved David Gilmour so much that he sampled Hawking’s words for the track Keep Talking on Pink Floyd’s album “Division Bell”. The same sample was also used for “Talkin’ Hawkin”, released on their final album in 2014.
Masters of Science Fiction
In recent times, the mention of a science fiction TV show brings to mind names like Black Mirror. But in 2007, an anthology series called Masters of Science Fiction debuted on the ABC network, comprising of four episodes that told distinct, individual stories. The best part? The show was hosted by an off-screen Stephen Hawking himself.
Stephen Hawking and some magic
Being a man of science doesn’t necessarily mean that one cannot enjoy some sleight of hand once in a while. American magician and illusionist David Blaine traveled to Cambridge to perform for Stephen Hawking and showed him a card trick, and Hawking’s reaction was truly worth watching.
Stephen Hawking on Stephen Hawking
Hawking has been part of numerous documentaries related to space and science in general – either through creation, narration or writing. But perhaps our most memorable instance of him being involved in one comes from one on his own life, narrated by him. Hawking, also known as Hawking: Brief History of Mine, a 2013 documentary by Stephen Finnigan features Stephen Hawking himself as the narrator, going through events in his own life. Who better to hear it from, right?
Stephen Hawking on One Direction and Zayn Malik
During a holographic appearance from Cambridge at the Sydney Opera House, a girl had questioned him about the cosmological effect of Malik leaving One Direction and millions of hearts breaking all over the world. His reply advised them to concentrate on theoretical physics and prove the existence of parallel universes, in one of which, he didn’t leave the band. Check out the full interaction below:
Image source: Flickr