‘He is a huge inspiration’ – Portsmouth professor pays tribute to Stephen Hawking

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A professor from the University of Portsmouth inspired by Stephen Hawking has paid tribute to his hero of science.

David Wands, professor of cosmology at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, was a student at the University of Cambridge when Professor Hawking was writing his book, A Brief History of Time.

Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, posing beside a lamp titled 'black hole light' by inventor Mark Champkins, presented to him during his visit to the Science Museum in London.  Anthony Devlin/PA

Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, posing beside a lamp titled 'black hole light' by inventor Mark Champkins, presented to him during his visit to the Science Museum in London. Anthony Devlin/PA

Now Prof Wands has paid tribute to Prof Hawking, who died earlier today.

He said he remembers attending lectures from the man who inspired his choice to go into the field of cosmology.

Professor Hawking died aged 76 in the early hours of this morning.

Professor Wands, 51, said: ‘He is a huge inspiration to everyone in the science community and to me.’

Professor David Wands

Professor David Wands

He added: ‘It is sad of course but I think the immediate reaction is what a life he had.

‘He was certainly someone who made the most of it.’

Wands had the opportunity to work with Hawking and attended talks with him.

He said: ‘I was fortunate enough to be invited along to his birthday party last year, both the public event and then the private party back at his house after.

‘Hawking was like that, so generous to the science community and he was supportive of scientists around the world.’

Prof Wands added: ‘He was so well-known everywhere and as soon as you heard that computer voice you knew it was him.

‘The word iconic truly sums him up.’