Star Trek Remembers Professor Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking on Star Trek: The Next Generation

The Star Trek community mourns the loss of renowned theoretical physicist and author Stephen Hawking, who died at his home in Cambridge, England, early this morning.

History-making guest appearance

Stephen Hawking is the only person to ever play himself in the history of the franchise.  A longtime Star Trek fan, Hawking had toured the Star Trek: The Next Generation set during a visit to Paramount to shoot a promotional video for his bestselling book A Brief History of Time — and he made the very rare request to be taken out of his wheelchair so he could have a moment in Picard’s chair. He obviously enjoyed it, because after that he made a request (through Leonard Nimoy) to appear on the show, if there was ever a way that made sense.

Michael Piller was the one who came up with the idea of Data playing a holodeck poker game with intellectual giants, and  the scene was written for The Next Generation episode “Descent.” It featured Hawking placing his bets against Data, Albert Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton.

During filming, Hawking toured the set again, and upon seeing the warp core in engineering, commented, “I’m working on that.” No doubt.

Stephen Hawking on the set of the USS Enterprise

In his foreword to Lawrence M. Krauss’ The Physics of Star Trek, Hawking wrote:

I was very pleased that Data decided to call Newton, Einstein, and me for a game of poker aboard the Enterprise. Here was my chance to turn the tables on the two great men of gravity, particularly Einstein, who didn’t believe in chance or in God playing dice. Unfortunately, I never collected my winnings because the game had to be abandoned on account of a red alert. I contacted Paramount studios afterward to cash in my chips, but they didn’t know the exchange rate.

Trek luminaries honor Professor Hawking

A number of Trek vets from in front and behind the camera tweeted their thoughts on the loss of this eloquent genius, including those who worked with on The Next Generation.

William Shatner included a shot of the two of them from Shatner’s documentary, The Truth is in the Stars:

Star Trek movie stars Simon Pegg and Zoe Saldana – who worked together with Hawking on the short Caltech film Quantum is Calling – shared their thoughts, along with a link to the film.

Many other Star Trek vets have shared their thoughts on the passing of Professor Hawking.

TrekMovie offers our condolences to his family, his friends, and everyone who celebrated his tremendous contributions to our part of the galaxy.

“Science fiction like Star Trek is not only good fun but it also serves a serious purpose, that of expanding the human imagination. We may not yet be able to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before, but at least we can do it in the mind.”

Stephen Hawking, The Physics of Star Trek (foreword)

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I stated this on my favorite NG moments ago upon hearing the news (apologies in advance if it seems a bit “irreverent” – Though Dr. Hawking probably would have laughed ANYWAY):

“He has ascended the terrestrial plane to become one with the universe.

(Or The Force. Though THAT doesn’t really mean a hell of a LOT lately.)”

rip 🖖

He will be truly missed!

When I was 13 or so, I spent a buck to send for a Hawking paper, probably about mini-black holes, that I had read about in the SF mag IF (either that or GALAXY) … When it arrived, my eyes rapidly glazed over (never been a math guy), and in flipping through the paper, I found the following on page 13 or so …

” … Consider for simplicity a quantized scalar hermitian field [null set] … ”

And the rest of the page was just numbers and calculations.

I had already known I had grown too tall to ever become an astronaut, but in that moment, I really realized that I wasn’t even a novice when it came to real science and I needed to concentrate on something I could understand in-and-out … like filmmaking or sportscasting.

Mr Stephen Hawking was such an inspiration for me, not just in terms of the works he did but also because despite all the hardships he faced in life, he never wavered, never lost his will to live and most importantly never lost his sense of humor. RIP sir, you are and always will be a legend.

The first true science book I ever attempted to read was A Brief History in Time. Could barely understand a word of it lol but once I did it was a fascinating read and made me look at the universe differently. Its those ideas that filtered through science fiction stories like Star Trek in the first place.

And I can imagine out of all the clips and interviews people are probably combing over now, his appearance on TNG is probably on top of the list. This is why I love Star Trek so much. He will be missed.

What a great man, so inspiring! Rip

a truly great person, an inspiration to the world, RIP, may your journey of discovery never end

I always liked the double meaning in his “Wrong again, Albert” :)

“Stephen Hawking is the only person to ever play himself in the history of the franchise.”

Stephen Hawking did not play himself. The character he played was a holographic simulation of Stephen Hawking.

Can anyone tell me why black holes evaporate?

Hawking radiation.

His theory on this is one of his greatest contributions, Why do you love him if you can’t answer previous question?

I still remember the nerdgasm I had when I saw Hawking’s TNG cameo. “A Brief History of Time” was the first book on cosmology and modern physics that I’d ever read, and it blew my mind. I had an even bigger nerdgasm watching the early 90s doc film by the same title in the theater. Hawking was a great astrophysicist, but he was also a great personality.