The ashes of British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who died last week at age 76, will be buried in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, near the rest of physicist Isaac Newton (1643-1727), a church spokesman said.
The dean of Westminster, the Reverend John Hall, stated that it is “completely appropriate that the remains of Professor Stephen Hawking be buried in the abbey, along with other distinguished scientists.”
The astrophysicist, famous for his popular science books and his research on the origin of the Universe and black holes, will be cremated at a public ceremony during this year of which no details have been disclosed.
On March 31, a private funeral will be held at the Great St Mary’s Church in Cambridge (England), to which family members, friends and colleagues of the physicist have been invited, Hawking’s children reported in a statement.
“Our father lived and worked in Cambridge for more than 50 years, he was an integral and very recognizable part of the University and the city, which is why we decided to celebrate his funeral in the city he loved so much and loved him so much,” notes the note disclosed by the University’s Gonville and Caius College, to which the physicist belonged.
“The life and work of our father meant many things to many people, both religious and non-religious, for that reason, the service will be inclusive and traditional, to reflect the breadth and diversity of his life,” said his children.
Hawking argued in his book “The Grand Design,” published in 2010, that the laws of modern physics exclude the possibility of a god creating the Universe.
For the dean of Westminster, “it is vital that science and religion work together to seek an answer to the great questions about the mystery of life and the Universe.”
In the London abbey are buried some of the most important people in the history of the United Kingdom, from monarchs and politicians to scientists and writers.
The remains of Hawking will be the first to be buried there since the death of the atomic physicists Ernest Rutherford, in 1937, and John Thomson, in 1940.
Hawking, who suffered from a neurodegenerative disease that put him in a wheelchair since he was 21 years old, will be buried near figures in the history of science such as Newton, who formulated the mathematical law of gravity, and Charles Darwin, who described the evolution of the species.