Remembering the Brightest Minds: Stephen Hawking’s 78th birth anniversary

Stephen William Hawking is one of the greatest physicists of our time. His theories have transformed the way the world looks at the cosmos.

Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxfordshire, England. His father was a research biologist and his mother was a medical research secretary. Hawking hated biology. He was called ‘Einstein’ by his friends but was an average student in college.

In early 1963, he was diagnosed with an incurable degenerative neuromuscular disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As his physical condition kept deteriorating with time, Hawking decided to pursue his work in physics. Doctors had only given him two to five years to live.

In 1962, he completed his undergraduate degree in physics from University College, Oxford, and then later in 1966, he completed his Ph.D. from Trinity Hall, Cambridge where he served as a research fellow and later as a professional. He was inducted into the Royal Society, a worldwide fellowship of scientists, in 1974 and appointed the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge in 1979.

Hawking’s books made his field of science understandable and accessible to everyone. A Brief History of Time and The Theory of Everything were instant hits among science enthusiasts and casual readers alike. His theory on black holes is considered to be his greatest work. His final paper was called ‘Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair’.

The world of science was not the only one where Hawking had an impact. The movie The Theory of Everything, named after one of his books, was revered the world over as one of the best biographic films ever made. Hawking passed away on March 14, 2018, in Cambridge due to ALS. A disease whose patients usually had a life expectancy of two to five years, Hawking lived with it for more than five decades.