Legendary cosmologist Stephen Hawking will live on in the universe in one of the most fitting ways possible. A message from the late astrophysicst was beamed toward the closest black hole during a service in Westminster Abbey.
Greek composer Vangelis -- best known for his award-winning score to "Chariots of Fire" -- transformed the iconic synthetic voice of Hawking into a unique musical piece. Then, using the European Space Agency's Cebreros station, a team beamed up the message. According to the ESA, "the broadcast started at 13.42 CEST and the signal was beamed towards the nearest black hole to Earth, 1A 0620–00, which lives in a binary system with an orange dwarf star."
Hawking’s daughter Lucy said in a statement: “Around the time that our father was laid to rest, the Vangelis composition with our father’s voice was broadcast into space. This is a beautiful and symbolic gesture that creates a link between our father's presence on this planet, his wish to go into space, and his explorations of the universe in his mind.”
"It is fascinating and at the same time moving to imagine that Stephen Hawking’s voice together with the music by Vangelis will reach the black hole in about 3500 years, where it will be frozen in by the event horizon," said Günther Hasinger, ESA’s Director of Science.
While that message was being sent into the galaxy, family, friends, and celebrities gathered at Westminster Abbey to remember and celebrate the life and legacy of Hawking.
“We come to celebrate the life and achievements of Stephen Hawking in this holy place where God has been worshiped for over a thousand years and where kings and queens and the great men and women of our national history and international influence are memorialized. We shall bury his mortal remains with those of his fellow scientists,” the Rev. John Hall, dean of Westminster, said during the ceremony, according to Westminster.
Hawking's ashes were added to the Scientist's Corner of Westminster Abbey. A gravestone was also added, etched with the equation Hawking used to state that black holes emit thermal radiation. In addition to the equation, this statement was placed on the gravestone: "Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking 1942-2018."
“We shall give thanks for Stephen Hawking's remarkable gifts and for his life: for his years as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and for his international reach and influence as a scientist; for his personal courage, endurance, and perseverance living with motor neuron disease; and for his family and friends," Hall said. "We shall with love commend his immortal soul to almighty God.”