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'In the presence of greatness:' Remembering Stephen Hawking in Seattle

Stephen Hawking presenting at the Pacific Science Center in 2012.
Courtesy of Pacific Science Center
Stephen Hawking presenting at the Pacific Science Center in 2012.

This week the universe lost one of its greatest minds.

Stephen Hawking, the renowned British physicist, helped explain the behavior of black holes and demystify the cosmos for all of us. And in 2012, Hawking came to Seattle to speak at the Pacific Science Center.

Amy Collins, with the Science Center, remembers she was showing Hawking around when a woman came up to them, obviously star-struck.

“The woman got tears in her eyes and she said, ‘I feel like I am in the presence of greatness, alive and dead.’" Collins said. "She was very emotional, and the nurse said, ‘Do you want to meet him?’ And I thought the woman was going to expire right there. Like my experience, I guarantee she remembers that as one of the highlights of her life and career."

Dr. Erika Harnett, a professor for the University of Washington's Department of Earth and Space Sciences, is also a great admirer of Hawking's work. 

“He was able to take these very complex concepts and communicate them in a manner where you did not have to have extensive training in the field to understand them," she said.

"I mean, I have a Ph.D in physics, but some of the concepts he talks about, when you really start to get into them, even for me they can make my head spin a bit. I think that was really one of his strong legacies, is that ability."

The cosmologist, writer, and science icon died at his home in England March 14 at age 76.

Year started with KUOW: 2015