World-renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking will embark on his ultimate posthumous discovery, as his words will be beamed into a black hole after a memorial service on Friday. It will feature readings and speeches, including from the actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in a drama series on British television.
Prayers were led by the Reverend Mark Birch, minor canon and sacrist, and said by the Reverend Dr Cally Hammond, dean of Gonville & Caius College, his ex-wife Jane Hawking, Elinor Tatum, University of Cambridge vice-chancellor Professor Stephen J Toope OC, and the Reverend Jane Sinclair, canon in residence. With his distinctive voice, Hawking's breakthrough observations on black holes and his advocacy of science were recognizable and popular with the public.
A host of celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch, Carol Vorderman and David Walliams today remembered the life of Professor Stephen Hawking (inset). In a dismissal that underlines his firm rejection of religious comforts, Britain's most eminent scientist told the Guardian in 2011 that there was nothing beyond the moment when the brain flickers for the final time. He was also immortalized in pop culture, with appearances in "The Simpsons" and "The Big Bang Theory".
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Physicist Brian Cox. Picture: GettyHawking died in March after decades of living with motor neuron disease.
Kip Thorne, a Nobel prize-winning American physicist, paid tribute to "by far the most stubborn friend I ever had".
A memorial stone will lie above inscribed, "Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking 1942 - 2018".
Interment inside Westminster Abbey is a rarely bestowed honour.
"He has inspired me to be the best that I can be and not let anything, including my disability, hold me back", said Jason Felce, 20, who controls his equipment with eye movement.