The universe that Stephen Hawking spent a lifetime studying now knows his voice.

Following Hawking’s death in March, the renowned British physicist, who had battled a debilitating degenerative motor neuron disease for decades, was remembered at a memorial service Friday at Westminster Abbey in London. His ashes were buried between Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton.

But at the same time his ashes were lowered into the ground, his voice was beamed from Earth thousands of light-years away toward the nearest known black hole in the universe. It was a “symbolic gesture,” his loved ones said, that finally let him travel into space.

“We come to celebrate the life and achievements of Stephen Hawking in this holy place where God has been worshiped for over a thousand years and where kings and queens and the great men and women of our national history and international influence are memorialized. We shall bury his mortal remains with those of his fellow scientists,” the Rev. John Hall, dean of Westminster, said during the ceremony.

“We shall give thanks for Stephen Hawking’s remarkable gifts and for his life: for his years as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and for his international reach and influence as a scientist; for his personal courage, endurance, and perseverance living with motor neuron disease; and for his family and friends. We shall with love commend his immortal soul to almighty God.”

Hawking’s ashes were interred in the Scientists’ Corner in Westminster Abbey and then fittingly covered with a gravestone etched with the equation he used to theorize that black holes are not completely black but faintly leak thermal radiation. That equation accompanied a depiction of a black hole along with the words: “Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking, 1942-2018.”

Greek composer Vangelis – most famous for his Academy Award-winning score to “Chariots of Fire”– set Hawking’s voice to an original piece of music, which was sent into space from a ground station in Spain.


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