Stephen Hawking, the brilliant, respected and world-famous theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author, died at his home in Cambridge, England on March 14, 2018, at age 76.
Throughout his 50+ year career, Professor Hawking helped us better understand the origins and workings of our universe.
According to a biography published on his website, www.hawking.org.uk, Stephen William Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England. It was noted that he was born exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo.
Hawking went on to earn an undergraduate degree from the University of Oxford and graduate degrees from the University of Cambridge, both in the UK.
In 1963, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, one of several types of motor neurone diseases.
The Mayo Clinic describes ALS as a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function.
At the time of his diagnosis, Hawking’s doctors told him that he was only expected to live for two years.
He proved his physicians wrong and fortunately, developing technology such as the speech synthesizer, he used to speak with, helped Professor Hawking continue his trailblazing work, despite the many physical challenges of his progressive neurodegenerative condition.
Along with his academic and research duties, Hawking was a prolific author who penned many popular science books that provided insight into various aspects of his research.
He wrote about complex scientific concepts and theories from a layperson’s perspective in his 1988 international bestseller, “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.”
Along with his daughter Lucy, the professor also wrote a series of children’s science-adventure books about a small boy named George. First in that series was “George’s Secret Key to the Universe”, which was released in 2007.
Professor Hawking’s relationship with the University of Cambridge continued from his days as a graduate student until his recent death.
His work with the prestigious University, throughout the years, included a 1979 appointment as the school’s Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. It’s the same position Sir Isaac Newton was appointed to at Cambridge in 1669.
Professor Hawking held this position for 30 years, until 2009 when he left that post to become the Director of Research in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge. He spent the remaining years of his life in this position.
In 1991, a biographical-documentary movie, with the same title as his hit 1988 book, made its debut in Los Angeles.
About 23 years later, in 2014, a biographical, romance/drama motion picture, called “The Theory of Everything” was released.
This film focused on his relationship with his first wife Jane Wilde-Hawking, whom he married in 1965. The couple divorced in 1995.
After his divorce from Jane, Hawking married Elaine Mason in 1995. The marriage ended in divorce in 2006
Not only was he a renowned scientist, teacher, and author, Stephen Hawking was also a pop culture superstar.
Over the years, the professor appeared in a number of movies and television shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Simpsons, and the Big Bang Theory.
He was even a guest performer on recordings by artists such as Pink Floyd and Monty Python.
He gave wonderful advice when he once told us to “look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”