This Is Not A
Stephen William Hawking
Scientist and author
b. 8 January 1942, d. 14 March 2018
I never read his books; I never even bought A Brief History Of Time, unlike so many late-80s poseurs who read it and mendaciously claimed to understand it. I am fairly sure that the Universe exists, and I leave it to far higher intellects than my own to work out the how (and possibly even the why).
I am more than fairly sure, however, that Stephen Hawking was one of the greatest minds produced by the late century; or, for that matter, any epoch. And he turned that mind, despite (or, rather, because of) its being encased in a failing body, into a weapon on behalf of science, knowledge and boundless curiosity.
In his work, and in his (and its) impact on our consciousness, he was a giant to rank alongside Einstein and Feynman. And he had a neat sense of humour as well, refusing to take his public image seriously by allowing it to be sent up (and even sometimes taking part in its upsending).
Sitting down (perforce), he stood taller than us all.