Born on the death anniversary of Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, and died on the birth anniversary of Albert Einstein, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking undoubtedly had a cosmic connection with science. Senior professor of physics at Fergusson College, Raka Dabhade, said, “It is hard to believe that Professor Hawking is no more. His work helped introduce the Big Bang theory and the subject of astronomy among schoolchildren.”
Till date, Dabhade said she regretted the chance of not attending the 2001 event at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, which saw participation of Professor Hawking. “I still recall many students wanted to participate in the event and the enthusiasm was palpable. Only a handful of them could make it, as there were limited entries. I, too, never made it,” said Dabhade, who also heads the Astro-club at the Physics department at the college. For Salomi Adhaw, a first-year bachelor’s student at the college, said, “I have always been in awe of the way technology was used to give the scientist his voice back,” she said.
Engineer Akash Madhav said episodes in American sitcom The Big Bang Theory that featured Hawking were his favourite. He added, “I would watch those episodes endlessly… I will watch it all over again.”
Several school and college students said, “Hawking was like the Albert Einstein of this century”. “Professor Hawking’s scientific contributions are as great as those of Einstein. We consider ourselves lucky to have lived while he was alive. His loss is irreversible,” said Pranoti Parmar, a Class XIth student in Jai Hind College.
Dabhade said she has been regularly following up Hawking’s lectures online and said his books were easy to understand. “Most of his articles and books deal with complex subjects but are presented in the most lucid manner,” she added.