Stephen Hawking, who died early today (March 14) at his home in Cambridge, England, visited UC Davis in 2003 for the Davis Meeting on Cosmic Inflation.
Organized by faculty in the cosmology group of the Department of Physics, the meeting drew many other leading experts in cosmology and theoretical physics.
As well as attending and speaking at the meeting, Hawking gave two public lectures at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and attended a lunch for local schoolteachers hosted by Chancellor Larry N. Vanderhoef.
Professor Andreas Albrecht, one of the organizers of the 2003 meeting, told Sacramento television station CBS 13 today that Hawking had been “a driver of the field for decades, for his whole career.”
“He’s had an impact on our understanding of the very beginnings of the universe, on the nature of gravity,” Albrecht said. “He’s had a huge presence in pretty much everything people study when they study the cosmos.”
Professor Markus Luty noted that Hawking was almost unique in being esteemed equally by scientists and nonscientists.
“For the general public, he personified the life of the mind in an inspirational way, and his popular books and lectures got many people engaged with difficult questions in fundamental physics.
“For scientists, his many brilliant contributions continue to be the center of intense research and debate, especially in the area of the quantum mechanics of black holes. He will be missed.”