Stephen Hawking b. January 8, 1942, age 68. theoretical physicist and cosmologist “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it as it is and why it exists at all.”
Early Life Born Stephen William Hawking in Oxford, England to Dr. Frank Hawking, a research biologist, and Isobel Hawking Nationality: English Has two sisters, Philippa and Mary, and an adopted brother, Edward Lived in St. Albans and attended St. Albans School as a child and teenager Studied physics at University College, Oxford, where his father had also attended Studied cosmology afterwards at Cambridge
Personal Life Has three children with first wife Jane Wilde: Robert (1967), Lucy (1969), Timothy (1979) Separated from Wilde in 1991 Married second wife, Elaine Mason, in 1995 Divorced Mason in 2006
Illness Hawking is severely disabled by a motor neuron disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is progressive and fatal, and caused by the degeneration of motor neurons (nerve cells in the central nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement). Diagnosed at age 21 and was told to only have two to three years left. Disease caused Hawking to be paralyzed from the neck down, first gradually losing use of arms and legs. Stephen Hawking is now one of the longest survivors of ALS at age 68. Contracted pneumonia at CERN in 1985 and was forced to have an emergency tracheotomy that resulted in the loss of his voice. Hawking now uses an electronic voice synthesizer controlled by his eye movements to communicate.
Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College
Lucasion Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for thirty years (1979-2009)
Member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
Popular science advocate
A Brief History of Time (1988) The Universe in A Nutshell (2001) A Briefer History of Time (2005) George’s Secret Key to the Universe (children’s book) (2007) Principal fields of research: theoretical cosmology & quantum gravity
Contributions to Science Theory of black holes: disproved idea that nothing could escape from black holes by explaining how they can emit many types of particles (named after him: Hawking radiation) and showed that they were not actually black. Developed links between gravity and the behavior of atoms through research on origins of the earth, which then allowed for development of the Grand Unified Theory (used by physicists to explain all matter). Greatest accomplishment: Defying odds of his illness and continuously contributing greatly despite his disability.
Awards & Honours Eddington Medal (1975) Hughes Medal of the Royal Society (1976) Albert Einstein Medal (1979) Franklin Medal (1981) Order of the British Empire (Commander) (1982) Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (1986) Wolf Prize in Physics (1988) Prince of Asturias Awards in Concord (1989) Companion of Honour (1989) Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society (1999) Michelson Morley Award of Case Western Reserve University (2003) Copley Medal of the Royal Society (2006)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (highest civilian honour in United States) (2009)