Stephen Hawking to be placed in Westminster Abbey near Newton, Darwin

Professor Stephen Hawking speaks about the reason why humanity would expand in space for the NASA Lecture on 21 April 2008.

(Paul Alers/NASA)

Stephen Hawking will spend eternity in the company of a number of other hugely influential English scientists.

The cosmologist and science communicator, died March 14 at age 76, will have his ashes interred in Westminster Abbey later this year, officials with the famous London church announced today (20 March).

“It is very appropriate that the remains of Professor Stephen Hawking are to be buried in the Abbey, near that of distinguished fellow scientists. Sir Isaac Newton was buried in the Abbey in 1727. Charles Darwin was buried next to Isaac Newton in 1882,” the dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend John Hall, said in a statement. [Stephen Hawking: A Physics Icon, Remember, Photos]

“Other famous scientists are buried or commemorated in the local area, the most recent tombs of the atomic physicist Ernest Rutherford in 1937, and Joseph John Thomson in 1940,” Hall added. “We believe that it is of vital importance that science and religion work together to seek an answer to the great questions of the mystery of life and of the universe.”

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  • Hall added

The abbey of officials not specify the date of interment. Hawking’s family will hold a private funeral ceremony for him on March 31 in the Great St Mary’s church, the church of the University of Cambridge, the BBC reported. Hawking has his graduate work in Cambridge, and was based at the university for decades thereafter.

Hawking revolutionized scientists understanding of black holes, showing that these mysterious objects actually emit radiation and may, therefore, evaporates more than long enough periods of time. He did this by fusing Einstein’s general theory of relativity with quantum mechanics, in a way that has never been done before. (By the way, Hawking’s death date forged another connection with Einstein was born on March 14, 1879.)

Hawking addressed many other great and important questions during his long career. For example, he and colleague Roger Penrose postulated that the universe began as a singularity is a point of infinite density similar to the environment of a black hole in the heart.

Hawking also communicated to scientists on the changing picture of the universe, the nature and the history to the public, in a number of the best-selling popular science books. And he did all of this while battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, that robbed Hawking of most of his motor function through the years. For the last ten years of his life, he communicated by twitching his cheek, the muscles, the movements that were picked up by a special sensor.

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