Stephen Hawking has died today at age 76. He lived incredibly long, given his condition. Even though he made important contributions in the field of black holes, I think his greatest achievement was to make physics accessible to the public. His book “A Brief History of Time”, which I read when I was about 15, was massively influential in steering my career choices and, ultimately, in shaping my life.
I was mostly interested in biology and genetics at the time to go to college, in 2003. However, it was still not possible to study Genetic Engineering in Spain back then (I think it became possible just the following year). Hawking’s book awoke my interest in cosmology and astrophysics, and that made me choose La Laguna University in Tenerife to study a Physics degree. Even though I did not follow the astrophysics track, today I am doing research I love in computational Physics, partly thanks to the seed Hawking’s book planted in me when I was just a teenager.