Stephen William Hawking was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author, who was the director of research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge at the time of his death. Take a look below for 30 more inspiring and interesting facts about Stephen Hawking.
1. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009.
2. Hawking achieved commercial success with several works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general.
3. His book, A Brief history of Time, appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record breaking 237 weeks.
4. Hawking was a fellow of the Royal Society, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
5. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.
6. His scientific works included a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation.
7. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.
8. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.
9. Hawking had a rare early-onset slow-progressing form of motor neuron disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, that gradually paralyzed him over the decades.
10. Even after the loss of his speech, he was still able to communicate through a speech-generating device, initially through use of a hand-held switch, and eventually by using a single cheek muscle.
11. He died on March 14, 2018, at the age of 76.
12. His parents, Frank and Isobel Hawking, moved from North London to Oxford, England, as at that time, during World War II, it was considered a safe place to give birth.
13. His birthday, January 8, 1942, was the 300th anniversary of the death of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei.
14. During his school times, Hawking was nicknamed Einstein.
15. At the St. Albans High School, he built a computer along with his group of friends and his mathematics teacher, Dikran Tahta, from an old telephone switchboard, clock parts, and other recycled components.
16. Hawking was very adventurous and witty in his youth. He was part of the rowing team at the University College, Oxford.
17. When he was pursuing his PhD at Cambridge, he fell in love with Jane Wilde, who was a friend of his sister.
18. His father, Frank, and mother, Isobel, both attended the University of Oxford. He had two younger sisters, Philippa and Mary, and one adopted brother, Edward. They often spent their meals silently reading a book.
19. Hawking was an advocate of searching for other habitable planets in order for the human race to survive.
20. In 2007, he took a zero-gravity flight to experience the weightlessness of space.
21. In 1997, Hawking lost a bet to American theoretical physicist John Perskill about the concept of black holes, which stated that nothing can escape from a black hole, which was a violation of the fundamentals of quantum mechanics. Finally, he admitted his defeat in 2004.
22. Although he was British, the mechanical voice in his speech synthesizer had an American accent.
23. When asked what was the most mysterious thing in the world, Hawking replied, it’s women.
24. Hawking was the only person who has portrayed himself in Star Trek.
25. On June 28, 2009, Hawking threw a party for time-travelers. He announced the party the day after it happened, and according to Hawking, no one came.
26. The Vatican once invited Hawking to a conference where he had an audience with the Pope. Pope John Paul had trouble understanding Hawking and knelt down beside his wheelchair to hear him better, prompting one scientist to comment that, “things certainly have changed since Galileo.”
27. Hawking’s son once added swear words to his father’s voice synthesizer as a prank.
28. When asked what his IQ was, Hawking said, “I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers.”
29. Hawking’s wife was given the option to take him off life support after he placed in a medically induced coma. She refused, and upon recovering, he finished writing A Brief History of Time.
30. In his final year at Oxford, Hawking went to see a doctor after falling down some stairs and he felt he was becoming clumsier. The only advice the doctor gave him was to “lay off the beer.”