|Specialty||Quantum gravity, general relativity|
|Born||Jan. 8, 1942 (at age 71)
Stephen Hawking is one of the most popular theoretical physicists in the world. His work on the structure and the origins of the universe has revolutionized the field of science, while his books have appealed to people who do not have a strong scientific background.
Hawking’s Early Life
Stephen Hawking was born in 1942 in Oxford, England. His family lived in the city of London where his father was conducting medicinal research. Nonetheless, London was not a safe place during WWI and his mother was sent to Oxford where Stephen Hawking was born.
The parents were back together living in Highgate town in north London where Hawking started his schooling. In 1950, his father moved to Mill Hill. Stephen’s family moved to St. Albans, a town approximately 20 miles north of London.
Stephen went to St. Albans High School for Girls. The school admitted boys up to age ten. When he was older, he went to St. Albans school, but his father wanted him to take a scholarship exam in order to go to Westminster public school. Nonetheless, Stephen fell ill at the time of the exams and remained at the school that he had attended from age 11.
He then went to University College with the goal of pursuing mathematics, though his father wanted him to study medicine. Because mathematics was not available at University College, he studied physics instead. After three years, he earned a degree in Natural Sciences.
At the age of 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a motor neuron ailment, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Doctors told him that he only had two years to live. Completing his doctorate appeared impossible, yet he managed to defy the odds, not only obtaining his Ph.D., but also forging new roads into comprehending the universe.
As the condition spread, Hawking was confined to a wheelchair. Talking became difficult and in 1985, he lost his ability to speak. A speech-generating gadget made at Cambridge serves as Hawking’s electronic voice. Before his condition, he met Jane Wilde, and they tied the knot in 1965. They had three children before separating in 1991. Hawking remarried in 1995, but divorced again in 2006.
Hawking’s Scientific Career
For most of his profession, Stephen Hawking served as a Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a position that was once held by Isaac Newton. Following the long tradition, he retired this position in spring of 2009, although he continued to research at Cambridge University’s cosmology institute. In 2008, he accepted a position as the visiting researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Hawking’s Greatest Achievements
In 1970, Hawking developed mathematical proof for black holes. He proved Albert Einstein‘s theory of general relativity. He redefined a Big Bang theory through science and math. Black holes have their set of laws that reflect the common laws of thermodynamics.
Stephen Hawking came up with the second law in 1971, which states that a total surface area of black holes will never become smaller. Also called the Hawking Area Theorem, the law created a mystery for physicists. Hawking’s law stated that black holes were hot. This is a contradiction of classical physics that stated black holes could not radiate heat.
Awards and Honors
Stephen Hawking has received many honors for his remarkable accomplishments. In 1974, he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was awarded the Erdington Medal in 1975. The following year, the Royal Society awarded him the Hughes Medal.
Hawking received Albert Einstein Medal in 1979. In 1982, the Queen made him CBE, Commander of the British Empire. He continued to receive honors like the prestigious Wolf Prize in Physics. In 1989, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Awards in Concord and was made the Companion of Honor.
Stephen Hawking’s unique appearance, voice, and fame have caused him to be fully represented in popular culture. He has made appearances on a number of popular TV shows. Despite being wheelchair-bound and reliant on a speech-generating device for communication, he continues to combine his family life (he has three children and three grandchildren) as well as his research into physics and an extensive schedule of travel and lectures. Hawking still believes that one day he will make it into space.