Stephen Hawking´s extensive work and research on black holes needed a special tribute and so what would be more natural then at the same time his ashes were interred at Westminster Abbey in London, the ESA beamed music featuring Hawking’s famously synthesized voice towards the closest-known black hole.
“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’s daughter Lucy said.
Stephen Hawking said that science would take us on a path to “the mind of God”. By that he meant that we would know everything that God would know, with the caveat, “if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.” On the face of it, the religious ceremony at Westminster Abbey was at odds with Prof Hawking’s personal views. But hearing the choral works of Wagner, Mahler, Stravinsky, Elgar – and, of course, Holst’s The Planets – filling the vast halls of the Gothic Abbey, one’s mind was lifted beyond Earthly matters towards the ethereal. And that is what he did through his work – unraveling the mysteries of the Universe.
Vangelis crafted the six-minute tribute piece; it features a message of peace and hope from Hawking. The ESA beamed the music towards the 1A 0620–00 black hole from its ground station in Spain. The black hole is around 3,500 light years away. It “lives in a binary system with an orange dwarf star.” When it eventually gets there, millennia from now, Vangelis’ piece “will be frozen in by the event horizon,” said Professor Günther Hasinger, ESA’s director of science. Those attending the memorial also received a copy of the music.
You can listen to the message via the embed below or via the BBC site.
While the music and Hawking’s voice will reach a distant solar system, on Earth his ashes have strong scientific company. They were laid to rest next to the graves of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin in Scientists’ Corner, a part of Westminster Abbey dedicated to those who made significant breakthroughs. The memorial stone on his grave includes his equation that describes the entropy of a black hole, along with an image of one and an inscription reading, “Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking.”