Stephen Hawking’s voice being sent to space
BENEDICT Cumberbatch has led tributes to Professor Stephen Hawking as the internationally renowned physicist was today laid to rest.
The award-winning cosmologist was celebrated for his "unique example of achievement against all the odds" as crowds including Little Britain star David Walliams, music legend Nile Rodgers and model Lily Cole gathered at Westminster Abbey.
More than 1,000 people attended the service of thanksgiving for the physicist, who died in March aged 76 after living with motor neuron disease for 55 years.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in a 2004 BBC drama Hawking, gave a reading on wisdom as the ashes of the renowned physicist were interred in Scientists' Corner, between the graves of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
An address was also given by two of Professor Hawking's oldest scientist friends, Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, and Kip Thorne, an American physicist and Nobel prizewinner.
Rees, who first met Prof Hawking at the University of Cambridge in the early 60s, paid tribute to the scientist's great contributions to the world.
Lord Rees said: "Stephen described his own scientific quest as learning the mind of God, but this was a metaphor.
"He shared Darwin's agnosticism, but it is fitting that he too should be interred in this national shrine.
"His name will live in the annals of science. Nobody else since Einstein has done more to deepen our understanding of space, time and gravity.
"Millions have had their horizons widened by his books and lectures, and even more worldwide have been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds."
Choral music echoed through the grand building as family members, led by the Dean of Westminster, processed to Prof Hawking's final resting place.
A memorial stone will lie above Professor Hawking's grave, inscribed with his most famous black hole equation, hovering over a series of rings.
The message: "Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking 1942 - 2018" has also been engraved on the memorial stone.
The grave was designed by John Maine and is made from Caithness slate from the north of Scotland - was chosen to represent deep space.
Hawking's life story, let alone his work, has inspired millions.
At the age of just 22, he was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease and given just a few years to live.
His illness left him wheelchair-bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication.
However, he defied all odds, going on to become a towering figure in the world of physics, a best-selling author particularly with his book A Brief History Of Time, a father of three and a TV celebrity.
Professor Hawking's words have also been set to an original score by Greek composer Vangelis, which will be beamed into space towards the nearest black hole.
Professor Hawking's daughter, Lucy, said the music would be aimed at "the nearest black hole, 1A 0620-00."
"It is a message of peace and hope, about unity and the need for us to live together in harmony on this planet", she said.
After the moving service in London, scientists from the European Space Agency were to use the Cebreros antenna in central Spain to beam a recording of Prof Hawking's voice giving a message of "peace and hope" to the black hole, his family said in a statement.
The recording had been set to music by Greek composer Vangelis - famous for his Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner scores and and lasts six-and-a-half minutes, the UK Telegraph reports.
Lucy, and first wife Jane Hawking, were among those who laid flowers, while a medal created by the Stephen Hawking Foundation was also placed in the grave next to the wooden casket.
Professor Hawking's children have expressed their gratitude to the abbey for allowing their father to have a distinguished final resting place.
Friend and former colleague Nobel prize winner Kip Thorne remembered the inspiring physicist for his sense of humour and "legendary" love for life.
He said: "Stephen and I were very close friends for 43 years, he was by far the most stubborn friend I ever had.
"He absolutely refused to let his physical disability get in the way of doing great science or get in the way of having great fun."
He added: "He has earned a special place in the hearts of admirers worldwide and a special place here in Westminster Abbey, alongside Isaac Newton."
This article was originally published in The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.