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Stephen Hawking's ashes to rest near graves of Newton, Darwin

A service of celebration for the late theoretical physicist will take place at Westminster Abbey later this year.

Acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking's ashes will forever rest in some very special scientific company.

London's acclaimed Westminster Abbey has announced that Hawking's ashes will be interred in the legendary church that is the final resting place of so many great scientists, and very close to some of the major names.

"It is entirely fitting that the remains of Professor Stephen Hawking are to be buried in the Abbey, near those of distinguished fellow scientists," the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said in a statement Tuesday.

Hall's statement went on to note that scientist and inventor Sir Isaac Newton was buried in the Abbey in 1727 and legendary naturalist Charles Darwin was buried beside Newton in 1882. More recent scientists buried in the Abbey include atomic physicists Ernest Rutherford in 1937 and Joseph John Thomson in 1940. 

"We believe it to be vital that science and religion work together to seek to answer the great questions of the mystery of life and of the universe," Hall said. 

Hawking died on March 14 at age 76, and tributes from across the world poured in. The acclaimed theoretical physicist has lived more than 50 years more than many expected, considering he was just 21 when he was diagnosed with a form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease gradually paralyzed Hawking, who used a wheelchair and spoke through a computer system operated with his cheek.

The statement noted that a service of Thanksgiving for Hawking will be celebrated later in the year before his ashes are interred near Newton's grave.

Hawking and Newton have shared space before, kind of. In a 1993 episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Hawking, Newton and Albert Einstein are seen as holograms playing poker with Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner), in just one of Hawking's many pop culture appearances.

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