Stephen Hawking to be laid to rest near graves of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin

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Isaac Newton was buried at the Abbey following his death in 1727, as was naturalist Charles Darwin a century and a half later in 1882.

New Delhi: The late legendary scientist Stephen Hawking will be laid to rest in Westminister Abbey, London, near the graves of ground-breaking scientists Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

On Tuesday, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster released a statement calling it a ‘fitting’ tribute to the British physicist who passed away in the early hours of March 14 at the age of 76.

“We believe it to be vital that science and religion work together to seek to answer the great questions of the mystery of life and of the universe,” Hall said in the statement.

Isaac Newton was buried at the Abbey following his death in 1727, as was naturalist Charles Darwin a century and a half later in 1882.

A service of thanksgiving in Hawking’s honour later in the year was also announced by the Abbey.

Best known for his work on black holes, Hawking was born in 1942 on the 300th anniversary of the death of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei.

He was considered by many as one of the biggest pioneers of science – his life and work fascinating people for decades.

He also played a key role in the mathematical effort to unify Einstein’s general theory of relativity with the emergent field of quantum physics.

Hawking skyrocketed to public prominence in 1988, when he published his first general-audience book, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.

The book became a bestseller and sold more than 10 million copies in 20 years. It was on the Sunday Times bestseller list for more than four years.

He accomplished all this while suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative disease which is usually fatal within a few years. He was diagnosed in 1963 at the age of 21.

Although his disease left him paralyzed and using a wheelchair for mobility, Hawking said on his website he had tried not to let it affect the way he lived his life.

“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many,” he wrote on his website.

Following news of his death, his fellow scientists around the world paid tribute to Hawking, with Neil DeGrasse Tyson saying he had left an “intellectual vacuum in his wake”.