Hawking 'an inspiration to everyone' at centre bearing his name

Researchers at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ont. are mourning the death of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. Hawking visited and did research at Perimeter and lent his name to a special centre there.

Stephen Hawking Centre in Waterloo Ont. is the only centre to bear the late physicist's name

Stephen Hawking on a tour at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ont.

Stephen Hawking's deep love for people, personal warmth and sense of humour are being remembered by those who knew and worked with him at Perimeter Institute, in Waterloo, Ont.

Hawking, 76, died early Wednesday morning in Cambridge, England.

The theoretical physicist was well known for his lectures on cosmology and for his books, including A Brief History of Time and Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays

Perimeter director Neil Turok, who was a close collaborator and friend of Hawking after working with him at the University of Cambridge as well as in Waterloo, said Hawking will also be remembered for inspiring many scientists.
Stephen Hawking, right, sits with then prime minister Stephen Harper at a funding announcement at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ont., in 2010. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

"Stephen's passing is a very sad day for physics and for humankind. His spirit will live on in all of us who knew him, as we aspire, with all our hearts, to perpetuate the many wonderful human qualities he embodied," Turok said in a release Wednesday morning.

"Uncompromising in his scientific honesty and his search for the truth, always willing to listen and to explore new ideas. He combined this with extraordinary personal warmth, an acute sense of humour, a deep love for people and for sharing good times together," Turok added.

"His incredible power and determination to overcome the constraints of his condition was the ultimate example of mind over matter."

Stephen Hawking's universe

24 years ago
Duration 13:47
World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking shares some insights on life and the universe in an interview with CBC-TV.

Time spent in Canada

Hawking was a distinguished visiting research chair at the Perimeter Institute. He started visiting the Waterloo centre in 2009.

At that time, Hawking said he was "honoured to accept the first distinguished research chair at the Perimeter Institute."

"The institute's twin focus on quantum theory and gravity is very close to my heart and central to explaining the origin of the universe," Hawking said.

"I look forward to building a growing partnership between PI and our Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, at Cambridge. Our research endeavour is global, and by combining forces I believe we will reap rich rewards."

2018 Paralympic Winter Games opening montage

4 years ago
Duration 2:04
Stephen Hawking narrates the opening montage for the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Winter Games, set to Alessia Cara's 'Scars to your Beautiful.'

In 2011, Perimeter named a centre after Hawking — the only building in the world to which Hawking ever lent his name.

At the opening of the centre, Hawking said, "the importance of special places and special times, where magical progress can happen, cannot be overstated. I am hoping, and expecting, great things will happen here."

Late last year, Hawking also endorsed Perimeter's new Centre for the Universe and lent his name to a new fellowship for a young theoretical cosmologist.
Stephen Hawking began visiting Canada in 2009. In this photo, taken during his second visit, Hawking was again visiting the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ont. ((Mike Cassese/Reuters))

'An inspiration to everyone around him'

Others at Perimeter noted the world has lost an irreplaceable scientist and human being.

Luis Lehner, faculty chair at Perimeter Institute, said Hawking's influence in science "has been tremendous."

"His continuing to push the boundaries of knowledge despite all odds served as an inspiration to everyone around him and this was very palpable at all levels — from students to faculty and staff — every time he visited Perimeter," Lehner said.
The volume of knowledge is exploding, Stephen Hawking tells a group of Vancouver children in 1993. Can human nature keep up?

Raymond Laflamme, Perimeter associate faculty member and the former director of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, did his PhD under Hawking at Cambridge. He called Hawking an "incredible scientist" who changed the way people think about the universe.

"Despite his disability, he had a great sense of humour and was able to do incredible things to inspire a lot of people," Laflamme said. "He was an inspiration for overcoming our challenges, to keep going, to always be kind to the people around us."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?