- NAME: Stephen Hawking
- OCCUPATION: Physicist
- BIRTH DATE: January 08, 1942 (Age: 71)
- EDUCATION: Oxford University, University of Cambridge, California Institute of Technology, Gonville & Caius College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Oxford, England, United Kingdom
- Full Name: Stephen William Hawking
- AKA: Stephen Hawking
- ZODIAC SIGN: Capricorn
Best Known For
Stephen Hawking is known for his work regarding black holes and for authoring several popular science books. He suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Stephen Hawking's chief theory is that black holes should emit radiation, which is known as Hawking radiation. His popular science book, "A Brief History of Time," has made science accessible to everyone.
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Groundbreaking findings from another young cosmologist, Roger Penrose, about the fate of stars and the creation of black holes tapped into Hawking's own fascination with how the universe began. This set him on a career course that reshaped the way the world thinks about black holes and the universe.
While physical control over his body diminished (he'd be forced to use a wheelchair by 1969), the effects of his disease started to slow down. In 1968, a year after the birth of his son Robert,
Hawking became a member of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge.
The next few years were a fruitful time for Hawking. A daughter, Lucy, was born to Stephen and Jane in 1969, while Hawking continued with his research (a third child, Timothy, arrived 10 years later). He then published his first book, the highly technical The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time (1975). He also teamed up with Penrose to expand upon his friend's earlier work.
In 1974, Hawking's research turned him into a celebrity within the scientific world when he showed that black holes aren't the information vacuums that scientists had thought they were. In simple terms, Hawking demonstrated that matter, in the form of radiation, can escape the gravitational force of a collapsed star. Hawking Radiation was born.
The announcement sent shock waves of excitement through the scientific world, and put Hawking on a path that's been marked by honors, notoriety and distinguished titles. He was named a fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 32, and later earned the prestigious Albert Einstein Award. In 1975 he journeyed to Rome, where he was honored with the Pius XI Gold Medal for Science from Pope Paul VI.
Teaching stints followed, too. One was at Caltech at Pasadena, California, where Hawking served as visiting professor for a year. Another was at Gonville & Caius College in Cambridge, England. In 1979, Hawking found himself back at Cambridge University, where he was named to one of teaching's most renowned posts: the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. Dating back to 1663, the position has been held by just 14 other people, including Sir Isaac Newton.
Hawking's ever-expanding career was accompanied, however, by his ever-worsening physical state. By the mid-1970s, the Hawking family had taken in one of Hawking's graduate students to help manage his care and work. He could still feed himself and get out of bed, but virtually everything else required assistance. In addition, his speech had become increasingly slurred, so that only those who knew him well could understand him. In 1985 he lost his voice for good following a tracheotomy. The resulting situation required 24-hour nursing care for the acclaimed physicist.
It also put in peril Hawking's ability to do his work. The predicament caught the attention of a California computer programmer, who had developed a speaking program that could be directed by head or eye movement.
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