Earlier today, the family of Stephen Hawking confirmed that the world-renowned physicist and cosmologist had died aged 76.
Following the news, people began sharing an anecdote about the scientists’ one true regret. It comes from his biography Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind, by Kitty Ferguson, and was remembered in a 2014 Daily Beast article by Marlow Stern.
When discussing Hawking during his rise to fame, Stern retold an anecdote from An Unfettered Mind.
In a fun aside, during this period, Hawking would enjoy running over the toes of people he didn’t like with his wheelchair. So in 1976, when Hawking was invited to attend Prince Charles’s induction into the Royal Society, he gave him the business. “The prince was intrigued by Hawking’s wheelchair, and Hawking, twirling it around to demonstrate its capabilities, carelessly ran over Prince Charles’s toes,” according to the biography Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind. “One of Hawking’s regrets in life was not having an opportunity to run over Margaret Thatcher’s toes.”
Big Bang theory? Sure. Vastly expanding our knowledge of space and time? Fine. But wishing you could run over Margaret Thatcher’s toes? Honestly, a true icon.
one of my favorite things about stephen hawking is that he was mean to all the right people pic.twitter.com/7jd3vLp5ql
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) March 14, 2018
Rest In Power pic.twitter.com/8YxVAAjaEa
— Ban Violent Video Games (@lib_crusher) March 14, 2018
That being said, this anecdote from Professor Sarah Parcak absolutely rules.
Stephen Hawking died today. I nearly killed him, and he me, 15 years ago, when his wheelchair shot out between two parked cars at Cambridge, and I was on my bike. I swerved at the last moment. 100% his fault. God bless you and RIP.
— Prof. Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) March 14, 2018
Hawking’s children Lucy, Robert and Tim remembered their father as “a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”
Their statement continued: “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.
“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’
“We will miss him forever.”Image: Getty Images / Santi Visalli