- NAME: Stephen Hawking
- OCCUPATION: Physicist
- BIRTH DATE: January 08, 1942 (Age: 72)
- 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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The invention allowed Hawking to select words on a computer screen that were then passed through a speech synthesizer. At the time of its introduction, Hawking, who still had use of his fingers, selected his words with a handheld clicker. Today, with virtually all control of his body gone, Hawking directs the program through a cheek muscle attached to a sensor.
Through the program, and the help of assistants,
Stephen Hawking has continued to write at a prolific rate. His work has included numerous scientific papers, of course, but also information for the non-scientific community.
In 1988 Hawking, a recipient of the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, catapulted to international prominence with the publication of A Brief History of Time. The short, informative book became an account of cosmology for the masses. The work was an instant success, spending more than four years atop the London Sunday Times' best-seller list. Since its publication, it has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 40 languages. But it also wasn't as easy to understand as some had hoped. So in 2001, Hawking followed up his book with The Universe in a Nutshell, which offered a more illustrated guide to cosmology's big theories. Four years later, he authored the even more accessible A Briefer History of Time.
Together the books, along with Hawking's own research and papers, articulate the physicist's personal search for science's Holy Grail: a single unifying theory that can combine cosmology (the study of the big) with quantum mechanics (the study of the small) to explain how the universe began. It's this kind of ambitious thinking that has allowed Hawking, who claims he can think in 11 dimensions, to lay out some big possibilities for humankind. He's convinced that time travel is possible, and that humans may indeed colonize other planets in the future.
Hawking's quest for big answers to big questions includes his own personal desire to travel into space. In 2007, at the age of 65, Hawking made an important step toward space travel. While visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he was given the opportunity to experience an environment without gravity. Over the course of two hours over the Atlantic, Hawking, a passenger on a modified Boeing 727, was freed from his wheelchair to experience bursts of weightlessness. Pictures of the freely floating physicist splashed across newspapers around the globe.
"The zero-G part was wonderful and the higher-G part was no problem. I could have gone on and on. Space, here I come!" he said.
If there is such a thing as a rock-star scientist, Stephen Hawking embodies it. His forays into popular culture have included guest appearances on The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation a comedy spoof with comedian Jim Carrey on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and even a recorded voice-over on the Pink Floyd song "Keep Talking." In 1992, Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris released a documentary about Hawking's life, aptly titled A Brief History of Time.
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