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Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking; an academic celebrity, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, was born on 8th January 1942 in Oxford, England. His father Frank Hawking was a research biologist. At the time when Stephen’s mother-Isobel Hawking was pregnant with him, his parents decided to move to Oxford from North London in order to find a safer place for the birth of their first child as London was under attack by the Luftwaffe.

In 1950 the Hawking family moved to St Albans, Hertfordshire, where Stephen received his early education from St Albans School. During his schooling Stephen was inspired by his mathematics teacher and decided to study the subject in university. However honoring his father’s wish, Stephen applied in University College, Oxford which at that time did not have mathematics teacher and thus did not offer the course. Stephen therefore applied for natural sciences and developed interest in thermodynamics, relativity, and quantum mechanics.

Upon competition his B.A degree from Oxford in 1962, Stephen joined Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he studied theoretical astronomy and cosmology. This is the same time when Stephen started developing symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and respiratory compromise. The first symptom appeared in university when he lost his balance and fell down a flight of stairs, hitting his head. Earlier doctors believed that Stephen will not survive more than three years. Hawking gradually lost the use of his arms, legs, and voice, and as of 2009 has been almost completely paralyzed. A Cambridge scientist built a speech generating device that enabled Hawking to write onto a computer with small movements of his body, and then have a voice synthesizer speak what he typed.

Despite his illness and with the help of his doctor tutor Dennis William Sciama, Stephen continued with his PHD from Cambridge. His principal fields of research remained theoretical cosmology and quantum gravity. In 1970 Stephen proved his first of many singularity theorems that provide a set of conditions for the existence of a gravitational singularity in space-time, based on his 1960’s complex mathematical model. He furnished a proof based on his mathematical calculations that all black holes are fully described by the three properties of mass, angular momentum, and electric charge. He suggested that primordial mini black holes were formed after the Big Bang. Stephen, in collaboration with Jim Hartle developed a model in which he proposed that universe has no boundary in space time.
In 2008 Stephen indicated that he is certain that alien life exists in various other parts of the universe rather not only on other planets but perhaps on stars or even floating in outer space. He stated his belief that few of these species may be intelligent and thus poses a threat to earth. He suggested that rather than trying to establish a contact, humans should try and avoid it.

In addition to his academic work, Stephen has written many popular science books. He believes that a lay person should have access to his work and theories. His first book “A Belief History of Time“, was published on 1st April 1988 and was a bestseller. His second very popular book is “The Universe in Nutshell” which was published in 2001.

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