A Brief History of Stephen Hawking
When a young Stephen Hawking was studying in Cambridge University in 1963, he was told that he would only live for two more years. His disease, being rare, would take away his ability to move on his own. He was a rising star as a student; on his way to make his groundbreaking discovery about black holes, but the doctors were skeptical that he would live for long.
The doctors were right, upto a point. He did pass away- but only after 55 years at the age of 76, on Albert Einstein’s birthday (and coincidentally, Pi Day). By then, he made a name for himself among his peers and the world, for his work on cosmology, his bestseller A Brief History of Time and inspiring countless people worldwide for almost all aspects of his life.
Born on January 8, 1942 in England, on the 300th birthday Galileo Galilee, Hawking was not a promising student in his childhood, to many academicians. With time, however, he proved his aptitude in science and mathematics. Originally wanting to study the latter as an undergraduate, he did his Bachelors in Physics at University College, Oxford and his Masters at University of Cambridge, where he discovered that not only black holes are finite, but that there is a way to bridge Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics.
It is a discovery that was both astounding yet fulfilling to dive into, more so for ordinary people as Mr. Hawking wrote a book about his work in words that they could easily understand. No surprise that the book inspired many to delve into STEM themselves, making them curious about not only black holes but about life overall. But it was as a student that he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, that affected his life heavily from then onward. Although the disease claimed his life rather slowly than the doctors had thought, he had to undergo massive surgeries and adjust his life according to his disease on a regular basis.
There were three sides of the British physicist that both fascinated and inspired the world simultaneously; first, he was the extraordinary genius who had the ability to explain complicated stuff in simple words. The second was his futuristic wheelchair-bound version with a computer that spoke for him. And thirdly he was this deep, compassionate and optimistic man who, despite having a physically crippling disease, made his place in the world and lived every day in good cheer and optimism for humanity.
More interestingly, Mr. Hawking had made himself an icon in pop culture for things other than his work and illness: his frequent cameos and bit-parts in popular shows like The Simpsons, Futurama and Star Trek: The Next Generation solidified him as a person with a dry yet self-deprecating sense of humor. His automated voice was always a joy to hear and has made writers and directors write disabled people like him in a witty yet positive light. Apart from documentaries two movies are based on him and in one of them, the actor Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for portraying him.
What makes Mr. Hawking such an inspiring figure was not only his works and disease but his eagerness in sharing his knowledge to others and opening doors for others to a road that they had never considered before as well as his optimism. Due to his disease, Mr. Hawking had a better understanding of depression and optimism than most famous people. Despite his illness, he managed to be a humorous and spirited person who still enjoyed life and lived it the way he wanted to the best of his abilities. He was a part of numerous charities and was very much involved in making the world a better place in any way he can.
It is no doubt that such a person with so many facets will be missed, loved and remembered by all. He was a human being with a finite time after all, just like his beloved black holes.