What Professor Hawking meant to Sasha Haco
We asked Sasha to tell us her thoughts about Professor Hawking
Growing up, Stephen Hawking was something of an idol to me. I read his book, ‘A Brief History of Time’ and was inspired to apply to university to study physics. When I was 17 I went to see Stephen talk at the Royal Albert Hall in London and I found it mesmerising, even though at that point I had no concept of the depth of scientific understanding that Stephen had achieved.
I only knew Stephen personally for a few years, but in this short time he had a profound effect on me. As a student trying to find my way in physics, his deep insights were always motivating and extremely thought-provoking. Of course, very few scientists will match Stephen’s huge achievements. But in private he was approachable and not intimidating in any way. He made me see that there are diverse avenues to follow to contribute to physics. There are so many unanswered questions – about the world we live in and beyond. So long as you are excited by science, no matter who you are, there will be some new avenue for you to explore, and at the outset you can never know how profound the results might be. Even very close to the end of his life, Stephen was still passionate about physics and driven to help communicate his ideas to a wider audience. His thirst for knowledge and understanding was utterly inspiring and it was such a joy and honour to be able to work closely with him.
Stephen Hawking has left his mark on the world. His masterful work has paved the way for physicists for many years to come, but it is clear that Stephen will not just be remembered within the scientific community. His quest for knowledge and astonishing strength of character have become a symbol for coping in the face of adversity and pursuing one’s dreams no matter what. It is a great privilege to have known such an extraordinary person.
Astrophysicist Sasha Haco worked with Professor Hawking at Cambridge and assisted with writing the 100 Years of Gravitational Theory booklet that accompanied the Einstein – Hawking Stamps.