Stephen Hawking, widely regarded as one of the greatest minds to have ever lived, has died at the age of 76.

Everyone from prime ministers to professors, astronauts to actors, are paying tribute to the theoretical physicist, celebrating his brilliance, resilience and the countless triumphs of his remarkable life.

Wonder Woman actor Gal Gadot shared her own eulogy to Hawking, claiming that he is now "free of any physical restraints".

Many people on Twitter are saying Gadot's tweet is ableist, a term to describe discrimination or prejudice against people who are disabled.

Hawking lived with significant disabilities caused by motor neurone disease (MND), which required him to use a wheelchair and a speech synthesiser.

Critics of the tweet say that, for Hawking, death was a far greater physical constraint than his disability.

Hawking toldThe Guardianin 2011:

I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

The actor is not the only one to insinuate that Hawking is now 'free' from his wheelchair. Some cartoons paying tribute show him standing up, as if only now finally able to truly explore the universe.

Others defended Gadot's tweet.

Chris James, Director of External Affairs at the Motor Neurone Disease Association said:

Professor Stephen Hawking had an extraordinary life and was able to continue his research throughout his illness. He achieved so much in his lifetime and never allowed himself to be defined by motor neurone disease (MND). His approach to life with MND is an example to all of us.

Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)