Stephen Hawking was a world-renowned physicist and cosmologist who made groundbreaking contributions to the field of science. He was known for his work on black holes, the origins of the universe, and the theory of relativity. Despite being diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21, Hawking continued to work and inspire others throughout his life.
Hawking’s life and work have been the subject of much fascination and admiration. He was a prolific author, with several popular science books to his name, including “A Brief History of Time” and “The Universe in a Nutshell.” He also made numerous appearances on television and in movies, and was known for his witty sense of humor and his ability to explain complex scientific concepts in a way that was accessible to everyone. Despite his physical limitations, Hawking was a true visionary who changed the way we think about the universe and our place in it.
Early Life and Education
Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England, to Frank and Isobel Hawking. His mother was from a family of doctors in Glasgow, Scotland. During his early childhood, his family moved to St. Albans, a town about 20 miles north of London.
Hawking’s father was a medical researcher, and his mother was a secretary. Despite their modest income, they placed a high value on education and encouraged their children to pursue academic excellence.
At the age of 17, Hawking began his studies at University College, Oxford, where he studied physics. He found the coursework relatively easy and spent much of his time participating in extracurricular activities, such as rowing and debating.
After graduating from Oxford in 1962, Hawking moved to Cambridge to pursue his graduate studies. He enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Trinity Hall, one of the colleges at the University of Cambridge. There, he began studying the properties of black holes and the origins of the universe.
Despite the challenges he faced due to his motor neuron disease, Hawking continued to pursue his studies with determination and passion. He completed his Ph.D. in 1966 and went on to become a professor at the University of Cambridge, where he remained for the rest of his career.
Career and Research
Stephen Hawking was a renowned theoretical physicist who made significant contributions to the field of physics. His research focused on understanding the universe, black holes, and the nature of time. Hawking was a professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge and held the prestigious Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics from 1979 to 2009.
Hawking’s work on black holes and the origins of the universe was groundbreaking. His book, “A Brief History of Time,” became an instant bestseller and helped to popularize science. In the book, he discussed the origins of the universe, the nature of time, and the possibility of a “Theory of Everything” that could explain all physical phenomena.
Hawking’s research on black holes and the nature of space-time singularities was particularly notable. He showed that black holes could emit radiation, now known as Hawking radiation, and that they could eventually evaporate. He also worked with Roger Penrose to develop the singularity theorem, which showed that the universe must have had a beginning.
Hawking’s research on the origins of the universe and the nature of time led him to develop the “No Boundary” proposal, which suggested that the universe had no beginning or end. He also worked on the information paradox, which suggested that information could be lost in black holes, contradicting the laws of thermodynamics.
Throughout his career, Hawking received numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Copley Medal, and the Companion of Honour. He was also a fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Despite being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21, Hawking continued to work and make significant contributions to the field of physics. He became a prominent advocate for medical research and was a patron of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Hawking was also an author and appeared in popular science documentaries and television shows, including “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory.”
Stephen Hawking’s contributions to the field of physics and cosmology were significant and continue to inspire new generations of scientists.
Stephen Hawking was married twice in his lifetime. His first marriage was to Jane Wilde in 1965, and the couple had three children together: Lucy, Robert, and Timothy. Hawking and Wilde divorced in 1995, and he later married Elaine Mason in 1996. However, that marriage also ended in divorce in 2006.
Hawking was known for his sense of humor and his love of music. He was an avid fan of Wagner and Bach, and he even played the occasional game of poker. Despite his physical limitations, he enjoyed traveling and exploring new places. He also had a passion for Formula One racing and even went to the Monaco Grand Prix several times.
Throughout his life, Hawking relied on a team of caregivers to help him with his daily needs. Among them was Mary, who worked for him for over 20 years. He also had a close relationship with Jonathan Hellyer Jones, who served as his personal assistant for many years.
Despite his fame and success as a scientist, Hawking never lost sight of the importance of family and friends. He remained close to his children and grandchildren throughout his life, and he often credited them with providing him with the motivation to keep going in the face of his physical challenges.
Health and Disability
Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, when he was just 21 years old. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness and eventually paralysis. Despite this diagnosis, Hawking went on to live an extraordinary life, becoming one of the most renowned scientists of our time.
Hawking’s ALS progressed slowly, and he was able to communicate verbally for many years after his diagnosis. However, as his condition worsened, he gradually lost the ability to speak and had to rely on a computerized voice synthesizer to communicate. He also began using a wheelchair to get around.
In addition to his ALS, Hawking faced other health challenges throughout his life. He was hospitalized several times for pneumonia, and he underwent a tracheotomy in 1985, which required him to use a ventilator to breathe. Despite these setbacks, he continued to work and make groundbreaking contributions to the field of theoretical physics.
Hawking’s disability was a significant part of his life, but he never let it define him. He once said, “My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in.”
Hawking’s life and work are a testament to the power of perseverance and determination in the face of adversity. He proved that even in the face of significant health challenges, it is possible to achieve great things and make a lasting impact on the world.
Death and Legacy
On March 14, 2018, Stephen Hawking, the world-famous theoretical physicist, passed away at the age of 76. His death was met with an outpouring of grief and admiration from all around the world. Hawking’s legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire and influence generations of scientists and thinkers to come.
Hawking’s passing was marked by tributes from many prominent figures, including Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in the 2014 film “The Theory of Everything.” British Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn also paid their respects, with May calling Hawking “a brilliant and extraordinary mind” and Corbyn describing him as “a giant of science.”
Hawking was also a vocal advocate for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, and his death sparked renewed calls for increased funding for the struggling healthcare system. The Guardian, a UK newspaper, noted that Hawking’s death “serves as a reminder of the importance of science and the need to support it.”
While Hawking’s passing was undoubtedly a loss for the scientific community, his legacy lives on through his groundbreaking work in the fields of cosmology and theoretical physics. As Hawking himself once said, “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” It is a goal that he came closer to achieving than anyone before him, and one that will continue to inspire scientists and thinkers for generations to come.
As for Hawking’s beliefs about the afterlife, he famously declared that “there is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” While his physical body may have passed away, his legacy and impact on the world will undoubtedly endure for many years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
What illness did Stephen Hawking have?
Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21. This is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
How did Stephen Hawking become paralyzed?
The ALS that Stephen Hawking had caused progressive paralysis, starting from his legs and eventually affecting his entire body. He was confined to a wheelchair and used a computerized voice synthesizer to communicate.
When did Stephen Hawking pass away?
Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14, 2018, at the age of 76.
What were Stephen Hawking’s last words?
Stephen Hawking’s last words were not publicly disclosed. However, his family did release a statement saying that he died peacefully at his home in Cambridge.
What is Stephen Hawking most known for?
Stephen Hawking was a renowned physicist and cosmologist who made significant contributions to our understanding of the universe. He is most well-known for his work on black holes and the theory of relativity.
Where can I find a PDF biography of Stephen Hawking?
There are several PDF biographies of Stephen Hawking available online, including “Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science” by Michael White and John Gribbin, and “Stephen Hawking: A Biography” by Kristine Larsen. These can be found through a simple online search.