And much of Hawking’s work was in the field of cosmology, a deep-thinking branch of astronomy that tries to explain the totality of the universe। Andy Fabian, an astronomer at Hawking’s University of Cambridge and president of the Royal Astronomical Society, said Hawking would start his layman’s lectures on black holes with the joke: “I assume you all have read ‘A Brief History of Time’ and understood it। “He was asking and trying to address the very biggest questions we were trying to ask: the birth of the universe, black holes, the direction of time,” said University of Chicago cosmologist Michael Turner। And while the public may not have understood what he said, they got his quest for big ideas, Turner said। “The first thing that catches you is the debilitating disease and his wheelchair,” Turner said।

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