Steve Hsu has a nice post about Hawking, with good links to Roger Penrose’s obit and some reminiscences of Hsu’s personal encounters with the great man and his staff. (How many people can say they’ve carried Stephen Hawking?)
Hsu recalls the late-80s Hawking postulate about radiation being emitted from black holes — which would seem impossible by definition. I never knew the physics but remember very well reading an essay in a Baen sf and popular-science anthology (titled, I think, “BLACK HOLES!”) and the remarkable essay within citing Hawking for the statement (delivered, I am sure, with his wicked grin) that his theory meant Cthulhu was as likely to emerge from a black hole as anything else. Which almost made me switch my major (I was at UC Berkeley at the time) from Poli Sci and History to Astronomy. Almost.
RIP, Mr. Hawking, it was a thrill to have experience these decades of existence knowing you were in them.