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Benedict Cumberbatch Leads Tributes to Stephen Hawking at Memorial Service

Science met science fiction in London, Friday, with “Avengers” and “Star Trek” actor Benedict Cumberbatch among those paying tribute to the late physicist Professor Stephen Hawking. Cumberbatch, who played the scientist in the 2004 BBC TV movie “Hawking,” gave a reading at a memorial service, which was held at Westminster Abbey.

Other names from the entertainment world in attendance included Piers Morgan, David Walliams, Lily Cole, and scientist and TV personality Professor Brian Cox. They joined Hawking’s family and luminaries from the worlds of science and politics, as well as members of the public, who received tickets after entering a public ballot. There were 25,000 applications for 1,000 available tickets.

British astronaut Tim Peake also gave a reading at the service. Hawking’s ashes will be buried alongside the graves of Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. In a fitting tribute to a scientific great, Hawking’s words have been set to an original piece of music from Vangelis (“Chariots of Fire”) and will be beamed into space.

Legendary theoretical physicist Hawking died in March. He was 76. A pioneering scientist, he also brought cosmology to the masses through his work, notably with the bestselling “A Brief History of Time.” Having suffered with motor neurone disease for decades, he also advanced disability causes.

The scientist’s early years were dramatized in the Oscar-nominated “The Theory of Everything.” He was also immortalized in pop culture, with appearances in “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

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