Stephen Hawking – Significant facts
Famous as: Scientist and Astrophysicist
Full Name: Stephen William Hawking
Date of Birth: January 8, 1942
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Father: Frank Hawking
Mother: Isobel Hawking
Education: Ph.D. in Cambridge University
Stephen Hawking – The greatest physicist of the present era
Stephen Hawking is one of the most brilliant theoretical physicist and cosmologist. At present, he serves as the director of research at University of Cambridge’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology. His research on the origin and structure of this universe has transformed the field to a great extent. He has made remarkable contribution to the common man’s understanding of the black holes. What makes him stand apart is the fact that he accomplished a lot while being completely paralyzed by one kind of motor neurone disease.
Early life and education of Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England on the 8th of January, 1942. He was born to Frank and Isobel Hawking during the World War II. He is the eldest of three children; both the siblings are girls. When Hawking was too young, the family shifted to St. Albans. It was a small town just about 20 miles from London. When he was 11, he studied at the St. Albans School. Hawking was a skinny, frail and awkward child. He was an average student. When he was planning to enter college, he started working on math, chemistry and physics. His father Frank wanted him to become a doctor. However, Hawking had different ideas. He attended Oxford University on a scholarship. He focused more on math and physics as he was passionate about theories. Einstein’s relativity theory and cosmology studies interested him. In 1962, he graduated with a first class honors degree. He moved to Cambridge University to pursue his research on Cosmology. In 1966, at the age of 23, he gained his PhD.
Stephen Hawking’s journey as scientist
Stephen Hawking continued being at Cambridge, first as a research fellow and later as professional fellow. In 1973, he left the Institute of Astronomy. In 1974, Hawking was inducted into the Royal Society which is an international fellowship of scientists. In 1979, he joined the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics; from 1979 to 2009, he served as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. It is the most renowned academic chair in the entire world (Another holder was Sir Isaac Newton!). Hawking has always been a part of the Cambridge University. At present, he is the Director of Research, Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.
Stephen Hawking is known for his extraordinary mind
As Stephen Hawking pursued his career avidly, he learned the basic laws that govern the universe. He said that since the universe is believed to have a beginning, that is, the Big Bang, it will probably have an ending as well. He worked with Roger Penrose, his fellow cosmologist. Together, they demonstrated that the General Theory of Relativity by Einstein proposed that space and time started when the universe was born and will end within the black holes. This was a result which simply meant that the quantum theory and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity should be united. Combining the two theories, Hawking came to a conclusion that the black holes are not completely silent but they emit radiation.
Stephen Hawking stated that the universe does not have a boundary, much similar to the earth. Though the earth is finite, it is possible for a person to travel around it infinitely; one would never come across a wall that would be best described as “the end.”
Medical Condition of Stephen Hawking
At the age of 21, Stephen Hawking was found to be affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It was said that he would live only for two or three years. He later confessed that this really motivated him to indulge seriously in his research. At present, he considers himself to be a medical miracle. He has been an epitome of how passion and drive can withstand disease and motivate longevity! Due to his severe medical condition, Hawking cannot speak! He uses a device called Speech Generating Device that translates his eye movements to digital voice! (He cannot use a keypad as well)
Awards and recognition for Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking has been extensively recognized for his contribution to Cosmology. The Royal Astronomical Society awarded him the Eddington Medal and Royal Society offered him the Hughes Medal. In 1979, he served as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, University of Cambridge; it was a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton. In 1981, he won the Franklin Medal. In 1988, he was awarded the Wolf Prize in Physics. In 1999, the American Physical Society awarded him the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize. In 2006, Hawking received the Copley Medal. In 2009, the United States offered him the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is highly noticed and known for his works on Black holes, Quantum gravity and Hawking radiation.
Stephen Hawking family
In his autobiography, Stephen Hawking mentions his life with Jane Wilde, his first wife, was a personal trauma. He also describes his relationship with Elaine Mason, his personal nurse and second wife, as passionate and tempestuous. Hawking met Wilde at the Oxford University. She helped him come out of deep depression when he was diagnosed with his motor neurone disease. She provided him hope of a family and future life. They got married in 1965 and the couple gave birth to three children. When the third child was born in 1979, Wilde found it difficult to cope up with the expectations of a wheelchair-confined husband and a young family. Meanwhile, she met Jonathan Jones, a musician. She made him stay in the same apartment where she lived with Hawking. Hawking wouldn’t object to this because he was expecting death at any time. Eventually, he thought he wanted someone to take care of and support his children when he was no more. Finally, he couldn’t accept the situation any longer. In the year 1990, he shifted to a flat along with his nurse, Elaine Mason. In 1991, he divorced Wilde. In 1995, he married Mason. After 12 years, the couple divorced in 2006.
Stephen Hawking – Trivia
- Hawking is a famous writer. He authored “A Brief History of Time” which was an international bestseller. He wrote a number of nonfiction books targeting the common man. Some of his books include “The Universe in a Nutshell,” “On the Shoulders of Giants” and “The Grand Design”. He also wrote a fictional series for children on how the universe was created.
- Hawking made some television appearances. He appeared as a hologram of himself on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also made a cameo appearance on Big Bang Theory, a well known television show.
- Mystically, he was born on the 300th death anniversary of the popular scientist Galileo.
- Before he was affected by his disease, he was a significant member of the Oxford Rowing Team!
- He believes he would travel to space someday. He has trained himself on the zero gravity aircraft, available with NASA.
Famous Quotes from Stephen Hawking
“All of my life, I have been fascinated by the big questions that face us, and have tried to find scientific answers to them. If, like me, you have looked at the stars, and tried to make sense of what you see, you too have started to wonder what makes the universe exist.”
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”