Stephan Hawking’s Voice Was Sent into Space…
But What Did He Say When It Returned?

In my lifetime, three great thinkers have lived and died. Albert Einstein died in 1955, Carl Sagan died in 1996, and Stephan Hawking died in 2018. Both Einstein and Hawking were 76 at the time of their deaths. When Einstein died, I was only 12 years old and hadn’t even had a biology class yet. Nonetheless, Sagan and Hawking could draw me into their worlds as an adult. I even wrote to Sagan about a question that I had about one of the Cosmos series to which he replied.

Hawking died on March 14, 2018 but was only recently interred at Westminster Abbey on June 15, 2018. His remains lie between Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

The interrment of Stephen Hawking

However, that was quite a tribute to a person who was an atheist and wasn’t into religion. As Hawking was laid to rest in London, the European Space Agency sent a six-and-a-half-minute musical composition by Vangelis from their satellite dish located in Spain to a black hole named 1A 0620-00, which is 3,500 light years from Earth. Included in Vangelis’ music were Hawking’s words regarding making the world a better place in which to live.

Vangelis’ music and Hawking’s words were sent to the black hole 1A 0620-00.

Stephen Hawking explored the science related to black holes. Hawking came up with the scientific equation to explain them.

Hawking said, “But to my great surprise, I found there seemed to be emission from the black hole. At first, I thought this must be a mistake in my calculation. But what persuaded me that it was real, was that the emission was exactly what was required to identify the area of the horizon with the entropy of a black hole.” Then he added, “I would like this simple formula to be on my tombstone.”

The black hole equation on Hawking’s tombstone

While Hawking’s life has been immortalized by Vangelis’ composition and Hawking’s words, I was sitting in front of my computer late at night researching something for a recent essay on Bobby Kennedy’s quote about the ripple effect. Without any warning, my computer froze up while looking at various sites. Then there was a crackling sound coming through my speakers. It sounded like static. Then I heard a voice that seemed far, far away.

While I sat there wondering what had happened, the voice repeated a simple sentence. This time the static was greatly reduced. I could recognize Stephan Hawking’s voice, which apparently was coming from the direction of the black hole, 1A 0620-00.

Again, Hawking repeated his simple sentence. One didn’t need a scientific background to understand what he said, “People who boast about their IQ are losers.” I quickly wrote his words down.

Finally, Hawking repeated his sentence again, “People who boast about their IQ are losers.” The static ceased after he uttered his sentence. With that, my computer returned to life. However, I was looking at a YouTube video.

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