Video: All you need to know about Stephen Hawking

Video: All you need to know about Stephen Hawking

Hawking was also a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and author of numerous books.



By AFP

Published: Wed 14 Mar 2018, 7:04 AM

Last updated: Wed 14 Mar 2018, 1:58 PM

Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, was Britain's most famous modern day scientist, a genius who dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe.
Born on January 8, 1942 - 300 years to the day after the death of the father of modern science, Galileo Galilei - he believed science was his destiny.
But fate also dealt Hawking a cruel hand. 

Stephen Hawking
Birth date: January 8, 1942
Birthplace: Oxford, England (grew up in and around London) 
Birth name: Stephen William Hawking
Father: Frank Hawking, a doctor and research biologist
Mother: E. Isobel Hawking
Marriages: Elaine Mason (1995-2006, divorce); Jane Wilde (1965-1991, divorce)
Children: with Jane Wilde: Timothy, Lucy and Robert
Education: Oxford University, B.A., 1962; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1966
Most of his life was spent in a wheelchair crippled by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease that attacks the nerves controlling voluntary movement.
Remarkably, Hawking defied predictions he would only live for a few years, overcoming its debilitating effects on his mobility and speech that left him paralysed and able to communicate only via a computer speech synthesiser.
"I am quite often asked: how do you feel about having ALS?" he once wrote. "The answer is, not a lot.

"I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many."

Stephen William Hawking, though, was far from normal.

Inside the shell of his increasingly useless body was a razor-sharp mind, fascinated by the nature of the Universe, how it was formed and how it might end.
"My goal is simple," he once said. "It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."
Much of that work centred on bringing together relativity - the nature of space and time - and quantum theory - how the smallest particles in the Universe behave - to explain the creation of the Universe and how it is governed.

Timeline of Stephen Hawking's life

A glance at the life of celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking
1952 - Attends St. Albans School.
1959 - Receives scholarship to attend University College, Oxford, from which he graduates with a degree in Natural Science.
1962 - Begins graduate research in cosmology at Cambridge University.
1963 - Diagnosed with the degenerative nerve disorder ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, at the age of 21. He is given two years to live.
1967 - The couple's first son, Robert, is born.
1970 - Jane gives birth to a daughter, Lucy.
1974 - Elected as a fellow of the Royal Society at age 32, one of the youngest people to receive the honour.
1979 - Becomes Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a prestigious position once held by Isaac Newton. Hawking holds the post until 2009. Jane gives birth to a third child, Timothy.
1985 - Admitted to a hospital in Geneva with pneumonia. He survives after an operation, but loses what remained of his speech. The next year he begins communicating through the electronic voice synthesizer that gave him his trademark robotic "voice."
1988 - Publishes "A Brief History of Time," a book on cosmology aimed at the general public that becomes an instant best-seller.
1989 - Made a Companion of Honor by Queen Elizabeth II.
1995 - Marries his nurse, Elaine Mason.
2007 - Divorces Elaine Mason.
2014 - Hawking's life is celebrated in the Oscar-winning biopic "The Theory of Everything," based on the memoir "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen," by Jane Hawking.   

Some of Stephen Hawking's publications

Stephen Hawking was a prolific author with a knack for making books on challenging scientific topics engaging to a wide spectrum of readers.
 The physicist is best known for his best-selling 1988 classic "A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes," which was intended to help people without a strong scientific background understand key questions of physics and human existence. In it, he discusses the origins of the universe and its future. Among his other books are:
- "George and the Unbreakable Code" and other stories: Written by Hawking and his daughter, Lucy, this was a series of illustrated children's books to explain "secret keys to the universe" to younger readers. The books deal with complex topics including the Big Bang.
- "My Brief History": A very personal memoir published in 2013 in which Hawking deals among other things with his childhood, his evolution as a thinker and scientist, the impact of his ALS diagnosis when he was 21 and the ways in which the prospect of an early death affected his work.
- "The Grand Design": Hawking said this 2010 book co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow was intended to address important unanswered questions such as why there is a universe and whether the universe needed a creator and designer. Hawking said his thinking had been influenced by significant advancements in physics that had followed publication of "A Brief History of Time."
- "On the Shoulders of Giants," published in 2003, sees Hawking writing about the great astronomers and physicists who preceded them, presenting in a single volume a vast history of the field that makes heavy use of original papers by Einstein, Copernicus, Newton and many others. Hawking puts each in context and explains their role in altering the course of science as mankind moved out of the Middle Ages.
- "Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays": This best-selling 1994 collection includes a mix of personal and scientific essays.


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