Teachers complained that his handwriting was terrible, and even in his school uniform, he looked scruffy. But there was something special about Stephen. His schoolmates recognized it long before his teachers. Stephen was full of energy and ideas. Despite his average grades, his friends nicknamed him Einstein.
Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford, England, on January 8, 1942, the 300th anniversary of the death of Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei. Stephen's father, Frank Hawking, was a doctor who had specialized in tropical diseases in East Africa. ... When Stephen was eight, his family moved to St. Albans, a prosperous middle-class town. There in 1952 Stephen passed entrance exams for the local private school, St. Albans School.
At 17, Stephen Hawking was one of the youngest students at University College, Oxford University's oldest college. ... Stephen's undergraduate days at Oxford were taking him deep into the study of both general relativity and quantum physics, but he found himself bored and unchallenged. At the same time, after a year or so of little social activity, he discovered a centuries-old Oxford tradition: the sport of rowing. ... his strong voice and light weight made him an ideal coxswain...
As the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, he follows in a line of outstandingly brilliant minds...And, unlike many who achieve distinction in a field that is notoriously difficult for laymen to understand, Stephen has been determined to make cosmology accessible to a wider audience. He resolved to write A Brief History of Time without resorting to the complex specialist language of mathematics usually considered to central to the study of the universe.
In 1974, Stephen 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.
In 1963, Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College.
As the disease spread, Hawking became less mobile, and was confined to a wheelchair. Talking grew more challenging and, in 1985, an emergency tracheotomy caused his total loss of speech. A speech generating device constructed at Cambridge, combined with a software program, serves as his electronic voice today, allowing Hawking to select his words by moving the muscles in his cheek.
Since 1979, he has held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. He has 12 honorary degrees, was awarded the CBE in 1982, and was made a Companion of Honour in 1989. He is the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes and is a Fellow of The Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Between 1965 and 1970 Hawking worked on singularities in the theory of general relativity devising new mathematical techniques to study this area of cosmology. Much of his work in this area was done in collaboration with Roger Penrose who, at that time, was at Birkbeck College, London. From 1970 Hawking began to apply his previous ideas to the study of black holes.
Despite being almost completely paralysed by motor neurone disease, Prof Hawking became one of the world's leading experts on gravity, black holes, and the origins of the universe
...the internationally known scientist and author said, "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."
His 1988 book, “A Brief History of Time,” was an international best-seller; in 2001 he published “The Universe in a Nutshell,” and a children’s book, “George’s Secret Key to the Universe,” was published in 2007, which was co-authored with his daughter Lucy.
Never afraid to court controversy, he even began to question the Big Bang theory itself in the 1980s, suggesting that perhaps there never was a start and would be no end, but just change, a constant transition of one "universe" giving way to another through glitches in space-time. He developed his "No Boundary Proposal" in collaboration with the Amercian physicist Jim Hartle.
"My goal is simple. It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."