As a kid, the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was not a great student, by his own admission. What he was always good at, however, was asking big questions, queries so daunting and seemingly impossible to answer that many of us avoid considering them.
In a slender new book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, released last month, Hawking shared his final thoughts, both scientific and personal. He died in March at 76 years old, but not before making the abstract propositions of cosmology and theoretical physics if not simple at least accessible and comprehensible.
He also shed light on his own life, humorously illuminating his path from middling student to world-renowned scientific genius, a mean feat made all the more impressive by the fact that Hawking was diagnosed with the degenerative motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in his twenties.