Professor Stephen Hawking 1942-2018

Stephen Hawking room opening

The College regrets to announce the death of Professor Stephen Hawking, alumnus of Trinity Hall and, amongst all the other honours he gained in his remarkable and distinguished life, Honorary Fellow. Stephen came to Trinity Hall as a graduate student in 1962, receiving his PhD in 1966. He was already marked out for his brilliance and creativity, and his time in the College proved to be highly significant for the development of his research interests, if it was also a time of great personal difficulty, following his diagnosis with motor neurone disease.

Stephen made profound contributions to our understanding of gravity and the Universe. Whilst at Trinity Hall he showed that Einstein’s theory of gravity predicts a singularity or ‘Big Bang’ at the dawn of the Universe. Later, he worked on the theoretical unification of gravity and quantum mechanics, which remains the greatest unsolved problem in physics. Most famously, he combined the two theories to show that black holes continuously diminish via ‘Hawking radiation’, and will eventually disappear entirely. Stephen also had a great gift for public engagement and, especially following the success of his book A Brief History of Time (1988), came to personify theoretical physics around the world.

Stephen was a close personal friend of Trinity Hall alumnus Dennis Avery and his wife Sally Tsui Wong-Avery. Dennis and Sally’s support for Stephen, and the University of Cambridge, led to the foundation of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, and the Stephen W Hawking Professorship in Cosmology was established due to a generous gift from the Avery-Tsui Foundation.  He was elected Honorary Fellow in 1984.  He last attended a function in the College in October 2015, when he opened the Stephen Hawking Room.