Someone once called A Brief History of Time the most popular book that nobody had finished, but in my case that wasn’t true: I was reading quite a few popular science books at the time it appeared, and there was none more popular than that, so I bought it and read it—all the way through. It was only a few years after my own peak science period, when I’d taken advanced maths and physics in grade 12 and moved on to a maths degree. (That eventually became a computer science degree, and then gave way to postgrad studies in political science, so thoroughly did I fall out with calculus and linear algebra at university—although I kept the stats going until the end).
I did read A Brief History of Time, though, and remember being able to follow it, more or less; but taking it off the shelf a decade later made me feel like I was living the closing pages of Flowers for Algernon. I sold my copy to a second-hand bookshop.
I once passed Professor Hawking in the lane leading to the University Senate in Cambridge. I wish I could say there was more to that anecdote (like, say, this one), but no. I did say this would be brief.
“Keep Talking” was a pretty ordinary Pink Floyd song on a pretty ordinary album (I would have said their most ordinary, except we’ve since had The Endless River). I’d always assumed Hawking recorded his contribution especially for the song, but apparently it was a sample from a BT commercial. Oh.
The Theory of Everything was a pretty good movie, with some affecting moments from Eddie Redmayne and a pre-Rogue One Felicity Jones. 6/10.
Guardian obituary by Roger Penrose, the ideal person to write it.