Stephen Hawking’s Voice Beamed into Space at Final Send-Off

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Physicist Stephen Hawking sits on stage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York
Physicist Stephen Hawking sits on stage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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By Costas Pitas
LONDON (Reuters)

The voice of Stephen Hawking was beamed into space with a message of peace and hope on Friday as the British physicist, who gained international acclaim for his work on black holes, was laid to rest during a service at London’s Westminster Abbey

The wheelchair-bound scientist who died in March aged 76 after a lifetime spent probing the origins of the universe, suffered from motor neurone disease which forced him to use an electronic voice synthesiser.

 

British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London
British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London, Britain, June 15, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

 

His ashes were interred between major British scientific figures Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin at the abbey, a 1,000-year-old location made famous worldwide for generations of royal coronations, weddings and funerals.

Members of the public from over 100 countries, selected by a ballot, joined friends and family for the service which included a reading from actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in a 2004 BBC film.

 

Dean of Westminster John Hall presides over the interment of the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey in London
Dean of Westminster, John Hall, accompanied by Stephen Hawking’s first wife Jane Hawking and his daughter Lucy Hawking, presides over the interment of the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking in the nave of the Abbey church during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey in London, Britain, June 15, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

 

The physicist’s voice set to a piece by Greek electronic music composer Vangelis, who created the soundtrack for the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, was sent from the European Space Agency’s Cebreros station in Spain.

The sound was beamed towards the nearest black hole, 1A 0620-00, which lives in a binary system with a fairly ordinary orange dwarf star, his daughter Lucy Hawking said in a statement.

 

Lucy Hawking, daughter of Stephen Hawking, speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London
Lucy Hawking, daughter of Stephen Hawking, speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London, Britain, June 15, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

 

“It is a message of peace and hope, about unity and the need for us to live together in harmony on this planet,” she said.

“This is a beautiful and symbolic gesture that creates a link between our father’s presence on this planet, his wish to go into space and his explorations of the universe in his mind.”

Hawking will rest between Newton, who formulated the law of universal gravitation and laid the foundations of modern mathematics and Darwin, whose theory of evolution was one of the most far-reaching scientific breakthroughs of all time.

 

 

Interment inside Westminster Abbey is a rarely bestowed honour. The most recent burials of scientists there were those of Ernest Rutherford, a pioneer of nuclear physics, in 1937, and of Joseph John Thomson, who discovered electrons, in 1940.

Around 25,000 people applied to attend the Service of Thanksgiving, according to the Hawking family.

 

(Editing by Stephen Addison)

 

Astronomer Royal Martin Rees speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London
Astronomer Royal Martin Rees speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London, Britain, June 15, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

 

American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate, Kip Thorne speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London
American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate, Kip Thorne speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London, Britain, June 15, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

 

Flowers are placed alongside the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking at the site of interment in the nave of the Abbey church, during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, in London
Flowers are placed alongside the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking at the site of interment in the nave of the Abbey church, during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, in London, Britain, June 15, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

 

Dean of Westminster John Hall presides over the interment of the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey in London
Dean of Westminster, John Hall, accompanied by Stephen Hawking’s first wife Jane Hawking, watches as his daughter Lucy Hawking, places flowers at the site of the interment of the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking in the nave of the Abbey church during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, Britain, June 15, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

 

British astronaut Tim Peake speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London
British astronaut Tim Peake speaks at a memorial service for British scientist Stephen Hawking during which his ashes will be buried in the nave of the Abbey church, at Westminster Abbey, in London, Britain, June 15, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

 

Members of the congregation file past the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking at the site of their interment in the nave of the Abbey church, during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, in London
Members of the congregation file past the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking at the site of their interment in the nave of the Abbey church, during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, in London, Britain, June 15, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS
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