KIGALI, Rwanda, March 15th 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Professor Stephen Hawking and sends its deepest condolences to his loved ones.
“Stephen was a huge supporter of AIMS. His only visit to Africa was in 2008, when he came to participate in the launch of the AIMS Next Einstein Initiative. He gave a public lecture at the Muizenberg pavilion – big crowds had to be turned away – and had lunch with the AIMS students, chatting amiably with them for several hours. He also flew up to Johannesburg to meet with Nelson Mandela. That was a special occasion – the two of them shared many qualities. Stephen also hosted a remarkable dinner, in support of AIMS, in Los Angeles a few years ago. Morgan Freeman, Quincy Jones and Sidney Poitier attended, alongside five or six AIMS alumni and AIMS President and CEO Thierry Zomahoun. Stephen’s intellect, his great human spirit and his love for others were a shining example to us all,” said Professor Neil Turok, founder of AIMS and the Director of the Perimeter Institute in Canada.
Of his visit Professor Hawkings was quoted as saying: “The world of science needs Africa’s brilliant talents and I look forward to meeting prospective young Einsteins from Africa. If my visit helps to create opportunities for Africans to enter maths and science, I will be delighted.”
“The influence of Professor Stephen Hawking was not only limited to his towering intellect and research accolades. He set the example of scientific excellence and humanity in his urgent call to save our plant. His life is a powerful example of what science can and should do,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, AIMS President and CEO.
Since the time of his visit to South Africa the Next Einstein Initiative has opened AIMS centres in Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Rwanda. Over 1500 students from 44 African countries have graduated.
Professor Barry Green, AIMS Chief Research and Academic Officer and Director of AIMS South Africa noted, “Professor Hawking’s visit to our centre is definitely one of the highlights in our history. He inspired all the students that he met and his support of AIMS has left a legacy that will continue to inspire future generation of students at our centre.”
Each year AIMS South Africa acknowledges Professor Hawking’s support by awarding the Stephen Hawking’s Endowed Scholarship at the graduation ceremony to a top achiever for the year. Last year’s award went to Mr. Tanjona Radonirina Rabemananjara from Madagascar.
In addition, one of the focus areas in the AIMS South Africa Research Centre is Cosmology and Astrophysics, and the head of this group, Professor Bruce Bassett noted, “He inspired us all by his genius and achievements, showing that disability and disease do not set a limit to our potential.
Among many other outstanding contributions he showed that the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of Einstein’s theory of relativity and that black holes are probably hot and can evaporate. He has inspired generations of scientists and lay people alike. It is truly a sad day for science.”
In tribute to his passing students at all AIMS Centres of Excellence will hold a moment silence.
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a pan-African network of centres of excellence for postgraduate education, research and public engagement in mathematical sciences. AIMS centres operate in South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Rwanda.
AIMS’ mission is to enable Africa’s outstanding mathematical science graduates to flourish as independent thinkers, problem solvers and innovators, capable of propelling Africa’s future, scientific, educational and economic self-sufficiency.
There are now over 1500 AIMS alumni (32% women) from 43 African countries throughout the world contributing to cutting edge research, continuing their post-AIMS academic studies or launching progressive careers using their mathematical science training.
For media inquiries:
Global Group Director, Communications and Public Engagement
T: +250 78735464
In South Africa:
AIMS South Africa Advancement and Communications Manager