Magic in the universe comes to our attention far too infrequently. Not so for Stephen Hawking, who died Wednesday after a lifetime of studying the planets, stars and black holes that make up the universe and trying to decipher its wonders through higher mathematics. Then, attempting to explain its laws in lay language for the benefit of the rest of us non-astronomers and non-astrophysicists.
After hearing of his death on a morning news bulletin today, I walked through my garden on the way to work and came upon a piece of magic indeed – a frangipani suspended in air – or that’s what it looked like.
Scientist Hawking wouldn’t have settled for a vague, lazy explanation called magic. He would have studied this apparition very closely, this phenomenon that seemed to defy the laws of nature – and would have concluded that an almost invisible single spider’s thread held the frangipani as if suspended by air alone as it swung about in the breeze.
This simple flower, along with its imperfection, is my offering to honour Stephen Hawking who died March 14 aged 76. It was Einstein’s birthday. This coincidence of dates would surely have appealed to his ebullient sense of humour.
A statement from his children in announcing his death summarises his exceptional life and mind:
‘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 humour 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 for ever.’
Text and photos copyright c v williams