The Atlantic

Stephen Hawking Lived Beyond His Body

For all of us, the act of being and thinking requires a network of complex support. The late physicist’s disability made it visible.
Source: China Photos / Getty

Midnight. As I was browsing the internet, I saw, like shooting stars, emails suddenly appear and disappear from the right-hand corner of my computer screen. The first from CNN announcing the death of Stephen Hawking, the second from an editor at The Atlantic asking me to write about him.

I had written about the man for 10 years—as a biographer of some sort, or an anthropologist of science to be more precise, studying the traces of Hawking’s presence. But now I felt a powerless inertia, unable to write anything. I didn’t think I would be affected by

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
Joe Biden Is Running for President
The former vice president has finally decided he’s in, and he’s announcing in less than a week. Now he just has to finish putting a campaign together.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
The Perverse Paradox of the Mueller Report
Donald Trump’s outrageous behavior described by the special counsel is, at this point, so deeply familiar that it has lost its power to outrage.
The Atlantic8 min read
Who’s Really Buying Property in San Francisco?
Updated on April 19 at 1:28 p.m. ET. There has never been a town like the one San Francisco is becoming, a place where a single industry composed almost entirely of rich people thoroughly dominates the local economy. Much of the money that’s been squ