back to top

Morning Update: Stephen Hawking, The World's Most Famous Scientist, Dies At 76

Plus: Rex Tillerson fired, a special election is too close to call. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, March 14.

Posted on

Stephen Hawking, astrophysicist with a paralyzing disease, has died at 76

To call Hawking a scientist feels insufficient: He was, arguably, the scientist — certainly the world’s most famous. He died Wednesday at his home in Cambridge. Hawking’s scientific acclaim came from his theoretical work in the early 1970s explaining how black holes end and the universe began.

Later, he published A Brief History of Time, a best-seller that made a star of a wheelchair-using, robot-voiced physicist who explored the greatest of cosmic mysteries.

Tributes to Hawking have begun to pour in from all over the world and they’re quite moving.

Rex Tillerson is out as secretary of state

President Donald Trump announced yesterday he had fired Rex Tillerson, ending one of the shortest and most tumultuous tenures of a secretary of state in recent history.

Trump intends to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and to replace Pompeo with Gina Haspel, the agency's current deputy director.

A White House official said Trump got rid of Tillerson in order to have a new team in place ahead of talks with North Korea and over trade. "I think Rex will be much happier now," Trump said.

Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein said Tillerson learned he was officially fired from the president's tweets.

The British government will review allegations of Russian involvement in 14 suspicious deaths

The UK's home secretary, Amber Rudd, has confirmed that the police and MI5 will look again at a number of deaths on British soil that have been linked to the Russian state, as a BuzzFeed News investigation revealed last year.

The report highlighted 14 suspicious deaths that were linked to Russia by spy agencies. Police have previously declared all 14 cases to be nonsuspicious.

The Pennsylvania special election is too close to declare a winner

The contest for the state’s 18th congressional district was widely viewed as a prelude to this fall’s midterm elections. In 2016, Trump won this district by 19 points.

As of midnight, with 100% of precincts reporting, the race was too close to call, with the Democrat who hoped to flip a solidly red district clinging to a lead of fewer than 600 votes. The state had not counted a few thousand absentee ballots, meaning the race was still undecided.

Regardless of who wins, the results give Republicans a lot to worry about: The House race in this Pennsylvania district never should've been this close, and it could be a sign of what's to come later this year.

Prince Philip got paid more than the Queen on The Crown, and people are not happy

I mean, the show isn’t called “Prince Philip and that lady he married,” so it’s fair that minds boggle.

Two producers for the Netflix show admitted that Claire Foy was paid less than Matt Smith when the pair played Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Sure, Smith is an established lead — you’ll remember he was the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who — but Foy’s character was the gravitational center of the show.

The producers promised pay equity on the show from now on: “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen.”

Quick catch-up

United Airlines: A dog died after a United Airlines flight attendant forced its owner to put it in an overhead bin. One passenger told BuzzFeed News they heard the dog barking from inside the bin during the flight. The airline confirmed the incident to BuzzFeed News, calling it "a tragic accident that should never have occurred."

Chia seed recall: The Oregon Food Bank is recalling more than 22,000 pounds of chia seeds after rodent poop was found in them. The food bank has urged people who consumed the contaminated chia seeds to dispose of the product ASAP. First question: Who donated over 22,000 pounds of chia seeds to a food bank?

Suspicious packages: UK police are investigating after suspicious packages were sent to four MPs with Muslim backgrounds, three of whom have said they received threatening and racist letters. The letters were entitled “Punish a Muslim day” and encouraged violence against Muslims.

Bad news for people who like love: Zayn and Gigi broke up. Love is dead. Nothing further.

Silicon Valley is having a crisis over “time well spent.” But so are we.

Every once in a while, we see a flurry of pieces on the virtues of “unplugging,” the value of getting away from the internet. What’s behind that is a deep sense that something is off — that something about the way we spend our time online needs to change.

Lately, giant tech companies seem to agree with this assessment. Facebook announced its focus on making sure users’ time is “time well spent”; YouTube wants to improve its news experience.

Charlie Warzel writes in this thoughtful piece that, much like us when we unplug, these tech companies are “looking for quick fixes.”

“Focusing on the vague metric of ‘time well spent’ is not a solution — it’s a way to feel better and move forward in the short term without addressing the real, systemic issues below the problem.”

People are laughing at this guy who broke into someone’s home and just crawled along the floor

He was trying to steal two heavy safes, but he failed and had to leave empty handed. But that’s not what grabbed people’s attention.

Police in Australia released home security footage of the burglar, in which he enters the property and then immediately begins crawling along the floor like he’s in a movie or something. He has since been dubbed the “Brighton Creepy Crawly,” and for good reason. Watch the footage — it is hilarious.

Enter your email below to sign up for the BuzzFeed News newsletter:

If you can't see the sign-up box above, just go here to sign up!

Elamin Abdelmahmoud is a Social Media Editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto

Contact Elamin Abdelmahmoud at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.