Stephen Hawking, famed physicist, dead at 76

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Stephen Hawking, famed physicist, dead at 76

Stephen Hawking, the famed theoretical physicist who defied a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to live virtually his entire adult life with the disease – in a wheelchair and paralyzed but making constant contributions to a world few could understand – has died at age 76, a family spokesman said.

Although Hawking may have been incapacitated physically, he managed to write books, including the best-seller "A Brief History of Time," teach physics and mathematics, deliver speeches and even float in zero gravity, all while working in the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity.

He was not modest about what he wanted to do. "My goal is simple," he once said. "It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."

"My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is, and why it exists at all."
- Stephen Hawking

Hawking reached his eighth decade but was forced to miss a scientific debate to mark his 70th birthday in January 2012 because he was discharged from a hospital only two days earlier. His personal assistant told the Daily Telegraph at the time his speech was getting noticeably slower, sometimes only a word a minute.

As part of the events surrounding his birthday, Hawking gave a rare interview to New Scientist magazine and declared there was still one puzzle left for him. Asked what he thought about most during the day, Hawking replied, "Women. They are a complete mystery."

Stephen Hawking with his first wife, Jane Hawking, at their 1965

Stephen's second marriage to Elaine Mason took place in 1995 - but they divorced in 2006
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In earlier interviews, Hawking was frank about his physical restrictions. "I'm sure my disability has a bearing on why I'm well known," he said in an interview with the BBC. "People are fascinated by the contrast between my very limited physical powers, and the vast nature of the universe I deal with.

"I'm the archetype of a disabled genius, or should I say a physically challenged genius, to be politically correct. At least I'm obviously physically challenged. Whether I'm a genius is more open to doubt."

Hawking was married and divorced twice. His first wife, Jane Wilde, was a fellow student at Cambridge to whom he was married for 28 years. He then married his nurse, Elaine Mason, whom he was with for 11 years before they separated.

He is survived by three children from his first marriage, Robert, Timothy, and Lu

Former South African President Nelson Mandela (C) meets theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking (L) at Mandela's Foundation office in Johannesburg May 15, 2008. Hawking is on a short visit to South Africa. REUTERS/Pool (SOUTH AFRICA) - GM1E45F1M9Q01
Stephen Hawking with Nelson Mandela in an undated photo.

Stephen William Hawking was born Jan. 8, 1942, in Oxford, England. He had two younger sisters and an adopted brother.

Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science. His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014

Hawking developed an early interest in science and mathematics, and when he was old enough his father, a medical researcher, encouraged him to apply to Oxford.

While there, Hawking began his studies in physics, and developed an interest in thermodynamics, relativity, and quantum mechanics.

After graduating from Oxford, Hawking studied at Cambridge, where he was diagnosed with ALS. Also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS is a fatal, motor neuron disease that causes progressive muscle weakness and atrophy.

Pope Benedict XVI (R) greets British professor Stephen Hawking during a meeting of science academics at the Vatican October 31, 2008.   REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN) - GM1E4B104EF01
Stephen Hawking with Pope Benedict XVI.

He later said the diagnosis prompted recurring dreams in which he would sacrifice his own life to save others.

"After all, if I were going to die anyway, it might as well do some good," he said. "But I didn't die. In fact, although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before."

Shortly after earning his Ph.D., Hawking became a professor at Cambridge, working as a research fellow then a professorial fellow before becoming the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. That same position, which he held from 1979 to 2009, was held by Isaac Newton in 1669.

Hawking was awarded 12 honorary degrees and was elected one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society in 1974. He was later made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1982 and a Companion of Honor in 1989. He is also a member of the US National Academy of Science and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Hawking's research focused on cosmology and the basic laws of the universe. Along with Roger Pemrose, he applied a new model to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. The model showed that space and time are infinite, and they would begin with the Big Bang and end with black holes.

He also concluded that black holes should emit radiation, and that the universe has no edge or boundary in imaginary time.

Hawking was never afraid to voice his opinion, even if it could be considered controversial.

Using a mathematical basis, he said he was almost certain that alien life existed in other parts of the universe. "The numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational," he said. "The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."

Microsoft President Bill Gates (L), accompanied by University Vice-Chancellor Professor Alec Broers, meets Professor Stephen Hawking on a visit to Cambridge University  October 7. Gates, who had earlier in the day  met Prime Minister Tony-Blair at Downing  Street, is investing 20 million dollars of his personal fortune in a computer research centre at the university. - PBEAHUMPWCT
Stephen Hawking with Bill Gates.
He also took a jab at religion, saying, "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."

In 2007, Hawking became the first quadriplegic to float in zero-gravity when he took a flight in a NASA aircraft used to train astronauts. When asked why he was taking the flight, he said, "First of all, I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go into space. I, therefore, want to encourage public interest in space."

"I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go into space."
- Stephen Hawking

Hawking – or his animated lookalike -- appeared on numerous television shows, including "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," "The Big Bang Theory," and "Dilbert." In some instances, he appeared as himself, while in others animated characters were created to resemble him. 

A 2014 biopic, “The Theory of Everything,” examined the courtship, marriage and eventual separation of Hawking and his first wife, Jane. The movie, which was directed by James Marsh, starred British actor Eddie Redmayne as the famous physicist.

In order to communicate, Hawking used a computer system attached to his wheelchair. He used a switch to select words printed on a screen, and as he formed sentences they were sent to a speech synthesizer.

His accent was described as Scandinavian, American, or Scottish. Hawking began using the voice synthesizer in 1985 when he contracted pneumonia and had an emergency tracheot

Stephen Hawking | From 1 To 75 Years Old | The Theory of Everything

Stephen Hawking | From 1 To 75 Years Old | The Theory of Everything | Stephen Hawking Thesis
Born: January 8, 1942 Oxford, England English scientist, physicist, and mathematician British physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking has made fundamental contributions to the science of cosmology—the study of the origins, structure, and space-time relationships of the universe. Early life Stephen William Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England. His father, a well-known researcher in tropical medicine, urged his son to seek a career in medicine, but Stephen found biology and medicine were not exact enough. Therefore, he turned to the study of mathematics and physics. Hawking was not an outstanding student at St. Alban's School, nor later at Oxford University, which he entered in 1959. He was a social young man who did little schoolwork because he was able to grasp the essentials of a mathematics or physics problem quickly. At home he reports, "I would take things apart to see how they worked, but they didn't often go back together." His early school years were marked by unhappiness at school, with his peers and on the playing field. While at Oxford he became increasingly interested in physics (the study of matter and energy), eventually graduating with a first class honors in physics (1962). He immediately began postgraduate studies at Cambridge University. Graduate school The onset of Hawking's graduate education at Cambridge marked a turning point in his life. It was then that he embarked upon the formal study of cosmology, which focused his study. And it was then that he was first stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, a weakening disease of the nervous and muscular system that eventually led to his total confinement in a wheelchair. At Cambridge, his talents were recognized, and he was encouraged to carry on his studies despite his growing physical disabilities. His marriage in 1965 was an important step in his emotional life. Marriage gave him, he recalled, the determination to live and make professional progress in the world of science. Hawking received his doctorate degree in 1966. He then began his lifelong research and teaching association with Cambridge University. Theory of singularity Hawking made his first major contribution to science with his idea of singularity, a work that grew out of his collaboration (working relationship) with Roger Penrose. A singularity is a place in either space or time at which some quantity becomes infinite (without an end). Such a place is found in a black hole, the final stage of a collapsed star, where the gravitational field has infinite strength. Penrose proved that a singularity could exist in the space-time of a real universe. Drawing upon the work of both Penrose and Albert Einstein (1879–1955), Hawking demonstrated that our universe had its origins in a singularity. In the beginning, all of the matter in the universe was concentrated in a single point, making a very small but tremendously dense body. Ten to twenty billion years ago that body exploded in a big bang that initiated time and the universe. Hawking was able to produce current astrophysical (having to do with the study of stars and the events that occur around them) research to support the big bang theory of the origin of the universe and oppose the competing steady-state theory. Hawking's research led him to study the characteristics of the best-known singularity: the black hole. A black hole's edges, called the event horizon, can be detected. Hawking proved that the surface area (measurement of the surface) of the event horizon could only increase, not decrease and that when two black holes merged the surface area of the new hole was larger than the sum of the two original. Hawking's continuing examination of the nature of black holes led to two important discoveries. The first, that black holes can give off heat, opposed the claim that nothing could escape from a black hole. The second concerned the size of black holes. As originally conceived, black holes were immense in size because they were the end result of the collapse of gigantic stars. Hawking suggested the existence of millions of mini-black holes formed by the force of the original big bang explosion.

Unified field theory In the 1980s Hawking answered one of Einstein's unanswered theories, the famous unified field theory. A complete unified theory includes the four main interactions known to modern physics. The unified theory explains the conditions that were present at the beginning of the universe as well as the features of the physical laws of nature. When humans develop the unified field theory, said Hawking, they will "know the mind of God."

Sir Stephen Hawking's last speech on stage | 2018 

Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works include a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and also the theoretical prediction that black holes emitting radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Stephen Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Stephen Hawking- Fundamental Physics Prize Speech in 2013. Stephen Hawkings death on 14 March, 2018 is a great loss for Science. We wish that his soul may rest in peace.

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