Stephen Hawking Fact 1: Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England on January 8, 1942, exactly 300 years following the death of the famous scientist, Galileo Galilei.
Stephen Hawking Fact 2: Stephen Hawking is a brilliant theoretical physicist, specializing in the fields of general relativity and quantum gravity. Stephen Hawking is also a cosmologist whose study of cosmology includes the origin, evolution and fate of the universe. He is a Director of Research at the University of Cambridge at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.
Stephen Hawking Fact 3: His parents were called Frank and Isobel Hawking. They were both former students at the University of Oxford. His father worked at the National Institute for Medical Research where he was head of parasitology. He has two sisters and an adopted brother, their names are Philippa, Mary and Edward.
Stephen Hawking Fact 4: He was raised in St. Albans in a three-story house. Stephen Hawking came from an intelligent, almost eccentric, family. His parents’ car was an old London taxi and little maintenance was carried out around the house. The family would often sit in silence with each member engrossed in a book.
Stephen Hawking Fact 5: Stephen Hawking attended St. Albans School, he wasn't hugely academic during these years, preferring to spend time with friends outside of school creating and playing their own games. They once used recycled parts to build a computer in order to solve mathematical equations.
Stephen Hawking Fact 6: At the age of 17, Stephen Hawking joined the College of Oxford University where he studied physics and cosmology. He was passionate about mathematics but Oxford didn't specialize in the subject. When he wasn't studying, he enjoyed dancing and rowing. He graduated in 1962 with honors in natural science.
Stephen Hawking Fact 7: Following his graduation from Oxford, Stephen Hawking began studying cosmology at Cambridge University. He was sent for tests as he had started to develop health problems including slurred speech and at times, he would trip over.
Stephen Hawking Fact 8: Following a series of tests, Stephen Hawking was given just 2.5 years to live. He was diagnosed with having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; a condition which causes the nerves that control muscles to shut down. The condition is also known as ALS, motor neurone disease and Lou Gehrig's disease.
Stephen Hawking Fact 9: His health began to deteriorate quickly, he started losing the ability to speak, walk and write. Stephen Hawking is a very independent, strong and determined character who wants to be regarded as a scientist and an ambitious human being. During the late 1960s, despite feeling very reluctant, Stephen Hawking agreed to use a wheelchair.
Stephen Hawking Fact 10: He met his future wife, Jane Wilde, before he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The couple met in 1963 at a New Year's party and were very much in love. Jane Wilde stood by Stephen Hawking, she was very supportive and encouraging. They married in 1965 and went on to have three children together called Robert, Lucy and Tim. Their marriage came to an end 30 years later when they divorced in 1995.
Stephen Hawking Fact 11: He remarried in 1995 to one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. Their marriage lasted for approximately 11 years, ending with a divorce in 2006. His first wife, Jane Wilde, released two books about her relationship with Stephen Hawking. The first was published in 1999 under the title 'Music to Move the Stars' and the second was published in 2007 under the title 'Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen'.
Stephen Hawking Fact 12: His speech continued to deteriorate, towards the end of the 1970's, only those who knew him well could understand what he was saying. In 1985, he caught pneumonia which became life threatening. His wife, Jane Wilfe, was asked for permission to turn off his life support machine. She refused to give her permission. Stephen Hawking was given a tracheotomy which lost his ability to speak entirely. Following the operation, he required twenty-four hour care.
Stephen Hawking Fact 13: Stephen Hawking was able to communicate for a time by selecting letters from a card by raising his eyebrows. However, he was given a computer program in 1986 which allowed him to press a switch in order to choose letters, words or phrases from a huge collection. The computer program was life changing for Stephen Hawking, it was called the 'Equalizer' and it was created by Walter Woltosz.
Stephen Hawking Fact 14: Stephen Hawking worked with English mathematician, Sir Roger Penrose, on the collaboration on gravitational singularity theorems, otherwise known as the Penrose-Hawking singularity theorems, to provide results based on general relativity. In 1968, their joint collaboration was a runner up in the Gravity Research Foundation competition.
Stephen Hawking Fact 15: In 1973, Stephen Hawking published his first book called 'The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time'. It was co-written by George Ellis and is based on the theoretical physics of spacetime. The book is highly scientific and technical, it consists of 384 pages and relates to the foundation of space.Stephen Hawking Fact 17: Stephen Hawking published a science book called 'A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes' in 1988. The book was immediately successfully, it achieved worldwide fame and was translated into more than 40 different languages. 'A Brief History of Time' relates to cosmology and provides an overview of the big bang, black holes and light cones as explained and outlined by Stephen Hawking.
Stephen Hawking Fact 16: In 1974, Stephen Hawking gave a theoretical argument for the existence of black body radiation that he predicts is released by black holes, often referred to as Hawking radiation. His research demonstrated that black holes are not the information vacuums that scientists had once believed. 'Hawking radiation' brought great excitement to the world of science as well as fame and recognition for Stephen Hawking.
Stephen Hawking Fact 18: Stephen Hawking has raised concerns about the future of our planet and the importance of exploring space. The following quote by Stephen Hawking reflects upon his views, 'Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, 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.'
Stephen Hawking Fact 19: Stephen Hawking is not a religious man, he doesn't believe there is an afterlife nor a heaven. The following quote by Stephen Hawking is relative to his lack of belief in God, 'We are each free to believe what we want and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization. There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.'
Stephen Hawking Fact 20: A movie about Stephen Hawking's life was released in 2014. It's called 'The Theory of Everything' and is based on Jane Wilde's book 'Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen'. The movie capture some of the saddest, happiest, triumphant and most important moments of Stephen Hawking's life including his relationships with friends and family, his success in physics and his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Influence and Legacy: Stephen Hawking is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author. He has dedicated his life to scientific research and specializes in the fields of general relativity and quantum gravity. Stephen Hawking has written several books including a bestseller called ‘A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes’ which achieved worldwide success.