Hawking’s 78th birth anniversary: Remembering one of the brightest minds in science
Arguably one of the greatest physicists of our time and a man whose theories changed the way the world looked at the cosmos, Stephen William Hawking would have turned 78 on Friday.
Hawking, someone whose work influenced the world of science like no other, was born in Oxfordshire, England on January 8, 1942. His father was a research biologist and his mother a medical research secretary. Despite his father working in the field of biology, Hawking hated the subject. He was, surprisingly, an average student in college and was referred to as ‘Einstein’ by his friends.
In early 1963, he was diagnosed with an incurable degenerative neuromuscular disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and despite his deteriorating physical condition, Hawking decided to pursue his work. Doctors at the time had only given him two to five years to live. He completed his undergraduate degree in physics from University College, Oxford, in 1962 and his PhD from Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1966 where he served as a research fellow and later as a professional. He was inducted into the Royal Society, a worldwide fellowship of scientists, in 1974 and appointed the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge in 1979.
Hawking’s books made his field of science understandable and accessible to everyone. A Brief History of Time and The Theory of Everything were instant hits among science enthusiasts and casual readers alike. His theory on black holes is considered to be his greatest work. His final paper was called ‘Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair’.
The world of science was not the only one where Hawking had an impact. The movie The Theory of Everything, named after one of his books, was revered the world over as one of the best biographic films ever made. Hawking passed away on March 14, 2018, in Cambridge due to ALS. A disease whose patients usually had a life expectancy of two to five years, Hawking lived with it for more than five decades.
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