Stephen William Hawking was the eldest child of Frank Hawking, a biologist, and Isobel Hawking, a medical research secretary. He was born in Oxford on the 8th of January, 1942 that turned out to be an auspicious date as it was the 300th anniversary of death of astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei.
After completing his school, he received a scholarship in the year 1959 to attend University College, Oxford. He graduated with a degree in Natural Science from there.
Lou Gehrig’s Disease
At the age of 21, in the year 1963, he was diagnosed with the degenerative nerve disorder ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease and was told he had just 2 years left to live. As it was meant to be, those 2 years didn’t get the better of him.
First Wife – Jane Wilde
On 14th of July 1964, he married his first wife, Jane Wilde, whom he met at the Cambridge University during the time he was there doing his graduate research in cosmology. They were blessed with three children, Robert, in 1967, Lucy, in 1970 and Timothy, in 1979. He divorced Jane in 1995.
At the age of 32, in the year 1974, he was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society and became one of the youngest people to have received this honor.
In 1979, he became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the Cambridge University, a prestigious position that was once held by Sir Isaac Newton. He held this position till 2009.
In 1985, he was admitted to a hospital in Geneva with pneumonia. He survived the operation, but lost his speech. The following year he starting communicating through the electronic voice synthesizer which gave him his trademark robotic voice.
A Brief History of Time
In the year 1988, he published a book on cosmology titled, “A Brief History of Time”. It became an instant best-seller. The book has had 10 million of its copies sold in the last 20 years.
Second Wife – Elaine Mason
In 1995, he married his nurse, Elaine Mason, whom he divorced 12 years later, in 2007.
In 1997, he met Gordon Moore, the co-founder of intel at a conference. Moore noticed that the computer which hawking used to communicate ran on an AMD processor. He asked Hawking if he would prefer a real computer instead, with an intel micro-processor. Since then, intel provided him with all the technical support and changed his computer every 2 years.
Highest Civilian Honor of US
In 2009, despite being a British citizen, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US’s highest civilian honor by Barack Obama.
The Theory of Everything
In 2014, his life was celebrated in the Oscar winning biopic “The Theory of Everything”, based on the memoir “Travelling to Infinity – My Life with Stephen”, by Jane Hawking.
Stephen William Hawking was one of the greatest minds to have lived in our times. The man, in spite of his disabilities, had the capability to put any fully-abled person to shame in a matter of seconds. He was strong willed with a mighty brain that worked beyond realms. The author of “A Brief History of Time” has made his way into the history as he passed away on the 14th of March, 2018, at the age of 76.
This is also the same day, when exactly 30 years ago, he invented “pi”. So he died on the pi day. And the date also resembled the first 3 digits of the value of pi – 3.14! Coincidence?
The award winning physicist died early on the Wednesday morning, thus leaving a void difficult to be filled. Though the reason of his death wasn’t disclosed by the family, it was told that he died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, England.
Throughout his career, he made a number of discoveries. Out of all those, Hawking regarded his discovery of black holes not being entirely black as his greatest achievement.
At the end, I would leave you all with Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweet on the passing away of Stephen William Hawking: