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News and Trends / Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking: The Man Behind The Theory of Everything

The renowned scientist passed away at the age of 76
Stephen Hawking: The Man Behind The Theory of Everything
Image credit: Stephen Hawking Official Website
4 min read
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From beyond the walls of classrooms, Stephen Hawking was a man who defied everything that put him down. A scientist who changed the way we understand physics today, a man who refused to let a disease take over his life and whose death has left an irreplaceable void. The renowned British Physicist and the author of 'A Brief History of Time', Hawking, passed away at the age of 76 on Wednesday at his home in Cambridge.

Stephen Hawking was a man beyond words and books. From his theories on the Big Bang to documenting that black holes emit radiation, a theory that baffled scientists from across the world when he came up with it in 1974 (Hawking declared that a black hole is lost forever when a black hole evaporates), his contributions to the world of physics are immense and he was admired by thousands of others striving in the same field.

Diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis- a rare neurological disease) at the age of 21, he didn’t let his disease define his career path. In spite of being wheelchair-bound and being dependent on a computerized voice system for communication for most of his life, Hawking continued to combine family life with his research into theoretical physics, in addition to an extensive programme of travel and public lectures.  

The scientist, known for his humour, had once said life would be tragic if it weren't funny. In the numerous lectures he had given across the world, Hawking always took to humour and wasn't afraid of making fun of himself. He even found mention in popular culture - TV shows like The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory and a movie The Theory of Everything was made on his life. 

Entrepreneur India remembers the achievements of Stephen Hawking, one of the pioneers in cosmology and theoretical physics.

Hawking Radiation

Professor Stephen Hawking has worked on the basic laws which govern the universe. In 1970, with mathematician Roger Penrose, he showed that Einstein's general theory of relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. These results indicated that it was necessary to unify general relativity with quantum theory, the other great scientific development of the first half of the 20th century. In 1974, he discovered that one consequence of such unification was that black holes should not be completely black, but rather emit radiation (which was later called as ‘Hawking Radiation’) and eventually evaporate and disappear.

Hawking's Speech Software for All

In 1963, Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, shortly after his 21st birthday. While doctors gave him two years to live, Hawking proved them wrong. His disease progressed slowly, and Hawking managed to make his life more than his disease. Although paralyzed with speech limitations, Hawking came up with a computerized system through which he was able to communicate through a single moving cheek muscle. At the time of his death, he was still using the speech generating device.

His speech system has been released by Intel as an open-source code. Intel hopes to expand its application to a wider range of disabilities.  

Awards and Honors:

Hawking's list of awards and accolades began early in his career. In 1974, aged just 32, he became one of the youngest fellows of Britain’s prestigious Royal Society. Five years later, he became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton: Lucasian professor of mathematics, Cambridge University.

The well-known scientist had received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor, in 2009, an accolade that doesn't come easy for scientists. 

Disability is Not a Limitation:

While many have said that Hawking's disability brought him name and fame, much more than any scientist usually receives. However, what can't be forgotten is how Hawking never gave up. Being tied to the wheelchair for over five decades, his brilliance in science outshone everything. Hawking became the face of the disabled, often giving lectures about how to work beyond your disability. He once said, "I have been lucky, that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope."

Watch Stephen Hawking Audition A-List Actors to Be His New Voice