Stephen Hawking is a name that needs no introduction. Whether you speak fluent String Theory or not, the universe owes a lot to Mr. Hawking — one of the most brilliant minds of our time. Today, however, the renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist has passed on at the age of 76. With him, the world lost its brightest star. But, if anything, it’s best to remember him fondly. Because despite his paralyzing condition, Stephen Hawking maintained an incredibly resilient spirit and sense of humor that was as sharp as his mind. His willingness to not take himself so seriously (sometimes even playing up to his stereotype) helped bring his abstract science to a wider audience.
Beyond his genius, he also cemented himself as a pop culture icon. Below, we recount our favorite cameos and features of the celebrated scientist.
Stephen Hawking: Live on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight
As a guest on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, Stephen waxed poetic about time travel, artificial intelligence, and the metaphysical odds of John dating Charlize Theron. The comedian was even served a side of sass as he asked the scientist if there could be a universe where he was smarter than him. Stephen’s reply? “Yes… and also a universe where you are funny.”
Stephen Hawking and the Pythons
Just when you think he’s done it all, Stephen lent his voice to Monty Python’s “Galaxy Song” — a simple tune that inspires people to realize how small their problems are in the grander scheme of things. It was an apt move, considering the scientist’s battlecry has always been that his disability is nothing of a hindrance to his achievements.
In a power team tandem with Al Gore and Nichelle Nichols, they united on an episode of the science-fuelled cartoon as “top nerd” group, The Vice Presidential Action Rangers. In another episode, Stephen showed he is a force to be reckoned with, shooting lasers from his eyes and saving the universe.
The next time someone tells you to find a more substantial show than The Simpsons, tell them it’s Stephen Hawking’s favorite show. On multiple interviews, he called it “the best thing on American television,” and has frequented the series himself as his own character, but upgraded to a helicopter-bladed wheelchair and spring-loaded boxing glove.
The Big Bang Theory
As one would expect from a show called The Big Bang Theory, Hawking is made nothing short of a god on the series. Held in high esteem by Sheldon and the rest of the gang, Stephen made a cameo quite a few times, much to everyone’s excitement.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Starring in another science fiction fantasy, Stephen was featured on a 1993 episode of Star Trek, playing poker with fellow geniuses Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. “The uncertainty principle will not help you now, Stephen,” warned Einstein.
Pink Floyd feat. Stephen Hawking
Carrying over his influence to music, it’s no surprise that other legends in other fields took notice of Stephen’s brilliance. Pink Floyd, completely moved by Stephen’s voice-over on a telecom advertisement, sampled his synthesised voice on “Keep Talking.” The track opens with Stephen saying, “For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination.”
Stephen Hawking: Live at Glastonbury
No, he wasn’t about to show up onstage with his own live band. But in 2015, Hawking was actually slated to appear on the Glastonbury Music Festival line-up as a guest at the Kidz Field, alongside The Foo Fighters, The Strokes, and more. Sadly, it didn’t pull through due to his health condition.
Text by Isabella Argosino
Header image from Biography.com
Featured image from The Simpsons