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The European Space Agency Came Up with the Perfect Way to Memorialize Stephen Hawking After His Death
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 14: Scientist Stephen Hawking of "Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking" speaks via satellite during the Science Channel portion of the 2010 Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 14, 2010 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

In March of this year, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76 due to complications from the motor neuron disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS). The debilitating disease left him relatively immobile and confined to a wheelchair. Upon losing his ability to speak, he communicated by interacting with an electronic device that synthesized words. He rose to worldwide fame for his teachings on space-time and the universe, and now it is fitting that a part of him has been sent into space. 

Hawking spent most of his career studying black holes. Black holes represent an area of space where massive gravitational forces have deformed and collapsed space on itself, where nothing can escape the gravitational pull once an object has passed the point of no return known as the “event horizon.” Astrophysicists, such as Hawking, have postulated that no object is immune to the gravitational force of a black hole, whether electromagnetic radiation or particles of matter. Albert Einstein’s general relativity theory supports the concept of the formation of a black hole. Notably, Hawking discovered that from just beyond the event horizon, black holes emit a special form of radiation that has been termed Hawking radiation.

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