Hawking first appeared in The Simpsons in 1990 Image: YouTube/ The Simpsons
Stephen Hawking, the man behind the God particle, died at the age of 76 yesterday, leaving science enthusiasts devastated. A close family member and a scientist could only manage to say, "Science is rapidly losing its romanticism" while reacting to the news. And that's when it struck me.
Stephen Hawking, the wheelchair-bound robotic-voiced man, was more than just a scientist. He was the man who made science cool again. He was the man who changed the narrative of the story of every nerd, and the biggest proof lies in the mega-successful television series, Big Bang Theory. For if it wasn't for Hawking, a Sheldon Cooper wouldn't have been born.
Though 'wheels'' presence on the show was most pronounced, his impact on pop culture wasn't limited to just that. And it stemmed from an inherent quality in him — his sense of humour — that eventually let his disability to be used in his stride. Here's a look at how deeply and uniquely the man has affected our collective consciousness, even those (like yours truly) who're aliens to the world of science.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
In the Season 6 cliffhanger, Descent, Part 1, Data was seen playing poker with holographic depictions of Hawking, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Interestingly, Hawking portrayed his own hologram for this episode, which made him the only guest in any Star Trek series to play himself. Brent Spiner, the actor playing Data, had said that Hawking's appearance was "the most notable moment in television history since Albert Einstein guest-starred on Gunsmoke".
The Big Bang Theory
Hawking appeared on the show in 2012 (he later appeared just as a voice) simply to review Jim Parsons’s character Sheldon Cooper’s paper on the Higgs boson. If you thought Sheldon's nonchalance is cute, watch him faint like a soap opera actor when Hawking says, "You made an arithmetic mistake on page two. It was quite the boner." Hilarious is an understatement.
When Hawking went to Springfield, he was seen saving Lisa's brain in 1990 in the episode title They Saved Lisa's Brain, and even sharing a beer with Homer Simpson at Moe Szyslak's bar. Did Hawking steal Homer's "theory of a donut shaped universe?" We shall never find out. But we did see him perform some cool James Bond-esque stunts in his trusted wheelchair.
Apart from appearing as himself on several shows, Hawking was even a part of Pink Floyd songs. The first time around, his voice was sampled by Pink Floyd from a UK British Telecom television advert and used throughout their song, Keep Talking, in 1994. Twenty years later, Hawking's voice reappeared in another of their tracks, Talkin' Hawkin' in 2014.
Ultimate X-Men (comic book)
Did you know Hawking had written an article on mutants and how they were mankind's last hope against the rise of artificial intelligence? Well, in the X-Men universe (#25) that actually happened, making Hawking one of the very few humans who empathised with mutants. Now that's bound to happen right, considering Hawking and the Beast aka Hank McCoy are such good friends in the comic book? "Whatever Doctor Octavius' motives for doing this his plan would work," Hawking had said in his short stint in the X-Men comic.