On Friday, June 15th, the ashes of the remarkable cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking were interred in Westminster Abbey, alongside the graves of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. Hawking died last March 14th, more than 55 years after doctors gave him just 3 years to live.
During the service, the European Space Agency paid tribute to Hawking by transmitting into space his voice, accompanied by orchestration by the Greek composer Vangelis. With much of his life’s work having been exploring the properties of black holes, the ESA chose to send Professor Hawking’s final message in the direction of the nearest known black hole. It is as follows:
“I am very aware of the preciousness of time. Seize the moment. Act now.
I have spent my life traveling across the universe inside my mind.
Through theoretical physics I have sought to answer some of the great questions.
But there are other challenges, other big questions which must be answered and these will also need a new generation who are interested, engaged, and with an understanding of science.
How will we feed an ever-growing population, provide clean water, generate renewable energy, prevent and cure disease, and slow down global climate change?
I hope that science and technology will provide the answers to these questions. But it will take people, human beings with knowledge and understanding to implement these solutions.
One of the great revelations of the Space Age has been the perspective it has given humanity on ourselves. When we see the earth from space, we see ourselves as a whole. We see the unity and not the divisions. It is such a simple image with a compelling message. One planet. One human race.
We are here together and we need to live together with tolerance and respect. We must become Global Citizens. Our only boundaries are the way we see ourselves. The only borders, the way we see each other.
I have been enormously privileged through my work to be able to contribute to our understanding of the universe but it would be an empty universe indeed if it were not for the people I love and who love me. Without them, the wonder of it all would be lost on me.
Let us fight for every woman and every man to have the opportunity to live healthy, secure lives, full of opportunity and love.
We are all time travelers, journeying together into the future. But let us work together to make that future a place we want to visit.
Be brave, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done.”
Stephen Hawking’s final message to humankind is expected to reach its black hole destination in approximately 3,500 years.