Professor Stephen Hawking was one of the greatest astrophysicists of our time recognized for his seminal work on cosmology and groundbreaking theories on space, notably on black holes and the Hawking Radiation. He was also an inspiration and icon for persons with disabilities around the world.
Diagnosed with a rare form of motor neuron disease at the early age of 22, he overcame his severe disability to develop and share his theories about the history of the universe with generations of scientists and members of the public through his book “A Brief History of Time”.
“Professor Hawking embodied the values of UNESCO, sharing knowledge and empowering people,” said Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, who also commended “his courage and commitment to science and to the betterment of the lives of persons with disabilities.”
UNESCO had the privilege of receiving a message from Professor Hawking on the occasion of the first International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Persons with Disabilities, held in New Delhi, India in November 2014. The message is a true reflection of Prof. Hawking's compassion and commitment to the cause of persons with disabilities.
Professor Hawking also supported the UNESCO-led International Year of Light. A tribute will be paid to him during the International Day of Light on 16 May at UNESCO headquarters with a new musical composition inspired by Professor Hawking, called “Romance to the Stars” and interpreted by the internationally acclaimed soprano Katerina Mina.