A Brief History of Stephen Hawking

A Brief History of Stephen Hawking

The world has lost its greatest mind, but the legacy of Hawking continues on throughout the scientific community.

Stephen Hawking died recently, after being told decades ago that he would only live another two years. In his over fifty years years of scientific study and research, Hawking made discoveries thought impossible by previous scientists and jumpstarted even more careers in the field by engaging the public via literature, open panels, and even cameo appearances in television and film. Without a doubt the most intelligent man to have ever lived, Stephen Hawking leaves behind decades of exploration and investigation into the mysteries of the universe. As with any person in his line of work, his life is best seen through his studies – and if you get the chance, read his books or even his doctorate thesis (which is available free online). But let's take a look at his early days, and what kind of legacy the acclaimed scientist has left behind.

Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, three hundred years to the day after the death of early astronomer Galileo Galilei. From a young age he showed his intellect, though he did not do well at school until he discovered science classes. At age 17, he began studying at the University of Oxford, where he joined the school rowing team and met his first wife, Jane. However, as time went on, he began having difficulties rowing and moving, and went to a doctor. There he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, and because of the times and ability of medical technology at the time, was given a life expectancy of two years. This was in 1963, and his final year at Oxford. Despite the two-year warning, his disease progressed much slower, and Hawking was able to attend Cambridge to earn a doctorate degree after his professor helped him with a depression. His speech was becoming diffucult, his walking required crutches, but that did not stop him from doing research into black holes and the possibility of a “space-time wormhole” within them. After writing his thesis on this very subject, Hawking was given a doctorate degree in 1966, aged 24. It was as if his illness was just a minor bump in the road. After receiving his degree, Hawking continued his study, even trying to disprove his own theory to uncover more information – such as how black holes generate a type of radiation (now dubbed “Hawking radiation”). The public began getting interested in black holes and the mysteries of what lies in space, and Hawking knew how to explain these concepts without talking down to them, thus making him a household name by the mid 1970s.

He never lost his wit or humor, and eventually had to be confined to a wheelchair (against his own desires, but there really ways no choice), and relied on close friends and family to interpret his speech to interviewers and colleagues, his disease slowly taking more and more of his energy. His work was being taught worldwide, as if he was an ancient mind like Newton or Copernicus. In 1985, he came down with pneumonia, which made breathing even more difficult – and the only way doctors could save him would be to perform a tracheotomy, but it would render him unable to speak and require 24-hour nurse care. One of those nurses would become his second wife after his divorce from Jane. Hawking did not care for the “communication board” he was given to use, and within a year was given a new text-to-speech system, thus giving him his iconic computer voice. Originally he was able to type by hand, but by 2005 had to use a system connected to his cheek in order to create text – and interviews had to use pre-submitted questions for him to program into the computer beforehand. His famous book, A Brief History of Time, which explained scientific concepts in such a way that the average person could understand was released in 1988, and was an international best seller. Around this time and in the decades that followed, he made several cameo appearances, from Star Trek: The Next Generation to The Simpsons to modern sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, and even appeared on two Pink Floyd albums with music overlayed over his voice.

But Hawking's achievements are not “in spite of his disability.” He was intelligent before he was unable to move or speak. He was researching and theorizing things once thought impossible. It just so happened that his body wasn't physically fit. His discoveries and theories, his writings and his speeches, are forever tied into physics and cosmology. He had a disability, yes, but his story is not impressive just because of that. He was breaking the mold of science and inspiring generations to get involved in scientific studies. Stephen Hawking was in a category that consisted of Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan, scientists that were known by everybody, not just those interested in the subject. Now, because of his ability to explain profound concepts to the average person, there are more and more scientists that are just as well-known, and more people who listen to what they have to say. He didn't personally discuss his disability much, because while it was a major aspect of his life, his scientific work was the more important to him. He was lucky to have lived long past the original diagnosis, but even still – he was working on a doctorate thesis unheard of then, so regardless he would have made an impact on black hole research.

Stephen Hawking was one of my personal heroes. Reading his books opened my mind to concepts and ideas that further extend understanding of the universe we live in. This was a man who would theorize something, then set out to disprove it in an effort to find the truth. A sense of humor that never faded and always made his talks and interviews memorable, to him he was not some big shot celebrity, he was a scientist wanting to find out how and why we are here, and what how the universe began and continues to expand. His legacy is one of scientific achievement, inspiring kids to read into his works and pursue a STEM career – some of whom are lucky enough to have worked with him in their adult lives. Hawking never took an IQ test, saying that “people who boast about their IQ are losers.” He cared more for one's own individual intelligence, not for how smart they were on paper. It is fitting he died on what would have been Albert Einstein's 139th birthday, considering he was born on the three-hundredth anniversary of Galileo's death. Three men who made such important discoveries about what lies beyond our planet, all three with names instantly recognizable to anybody around the world. The world lost a great mind with his passing. We'll never have another mind like his again, but his decades of discovery will continue to be examined and investigated, adapted and used to enhance technology and our view of what's beyond our planet.

Cover Image Credit: Lwp Kommunikáció/Astronomy Magazine

Popular Right Now

When God Gives A Girl A Brother

He gives her a best friend.

My brother is only 18 months younger than I am, but he's also at least a foot taller than me. Growing up with someone so close to my age has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. Yes, there was a time when I thought every single little thing he did was annoying and his feelings towards me were mutual. Yes, we still get into arguments and disagreements. But for the most part, we enjoy each others company. When God gives a girl a brother, He gives her...

1. A listener

I always have someone to talk to. No matter what, when, or where. Some of my favorite moments are spent chatting my brother's ears off while he absent-mindedly nods and continues to play x-box. Sometimes he just listens and doesn't say anything. Sometimes he gives me long replies. He always knows just how to react to what I am saying to him, which is why I tell him almost everything.

2. A protector

When I think about the man that my brother has become, it seriously brings tears to my eyes. He's so big!! How did this happen? I can remember when I was little and could boss him around and he would actually do whatever I said. Now I'm scared that if he hugs me too hard, I might break in half. My brother cares about me, and lets me know it. I'm so thankful to know that he is there for me no matter what and would do anything to keep me from harm.

3. A dance partner

Another favorite memory is dancing to Juju on that beat in the kitchen while mom is cooking dinner (or dancing with us). Or any other time any other song is on... in any other place... LOL. My brother and I are different in a lot of ways, but we both have no problem busting a move together.

4. A Sonic date

"Hey, wanna go get a sonic drink?" "Yeah, if you're buying!" This is a typical conversation for us, and he actually really does usually buy my food! (With mom's credit card sometimes, does that still count?)

5. An example

Being the older sister, I sometimes feel like I have let my brother down in a lot of ways in that he is probably an example to me more than I am to him. He is incredibly smart, talented, and hard working. Kids FLOCK to this guy, and he has the most creative mind ever. Seriously, I'm so nervous that my future kids are going to like their funny uncle more than me. He's way cooler than I am, and I want to be just like him when I grow up.

6. Comic relief

If you've never heard a "Lane Prevett story," pull up a chair. I will be glad to make you cry from laughing so hard. There's no way you can spend time with him and not laugh. And that, to me, is the best kind of person to be.

7. A best friend

My brother is a lot of things, but my favorite thing about him is that he is my best friend. Yes, we aggravate each other. Sometimes he plays his music too loud, and sometimes I take up all the internet so that he can't play video games. But I know that he would do anything for me, and he knows the same goes for him.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Sorry, Bella Thorne, But Whoopi Goldberg Has A Point

Nude photos leaked, a scandal on the rise


It all started with nude photos. Bella Thorne decided to release photos of herself naked after revealing that someone had hacked her things and was threatening to post them. She took it upon herself and said "It's MY DECISION NOW U DON'T GET TO TAKE YET ANOTHER THING FROM ME. I can sleep tonight better, knowing that I took my power back."

Let me make this clear from the very beginning. Bella has taken private, nude photos of herself for a reason we don't know (Probably to send to her boyfriend). She then gets hacked and threatened but decides to show photos anyway of herself naked to show that she has control over the hacker. Phew, I'm already not understand this choice.

Many celebrities and other women have praised her decision to do so, but I'm not one of them, and neither is Whoopi Goldberg from The View. While talking about the situation on the show, she was quoted saying, "Listen, if you're famous, I don't care how old you are, you don't take nude pictures of yourself. When they're hacking you, they're hacking all of your stuff. So, whether it's one picture or a million pictures, once you take that picture, it goes into the cloud, and it's available to any hacker who wants it. If you don't know that in 2019, that this is an issue ... you don't get to do that."

Now correct me if I'm wrong but isn't she making a valid point? Technology now has the ability to do whatever it wants, and hackers can get a hold of anything and everything. Whatever photos you take and send through text or even Snapchat can and will be saved to phones or shared among other people. How many celebrities getting texts, photos, or even calls leaked to the media?

In response to Whoopi, Bella is stating that she should be ashamed of her views, that she is putting the blame on girls for taking photos and is sick and disgusting. Can I make this clear again, she is not shaming you! She is simply saying that people (Not just girls, guys as well) should be smarter with what photos they take, who they send them to and know where they could possibly end up. It's not shaming; it's not a lie; it is the exact truth.

In one of her quotes, Bella says, "So what a girl can't send her boyfriend that she misses photos of her that are sexy? Things he's already seen?". I'm sorry, but I find this sentence very problematic. No one is saying that you can't be sexy for your boyfriend, just be smart about it. Sure, he's seen you naked, sure you've had sex, but the rest of the world hasn't. Just because one person gets the right to see it doesn't mean everyone else does as well. Hackers are out there, they are real, and they are real for celebrities and Hollywood.

Now yet again, Bella is twisting this story into something that it isn't. Now in videos that she has made explaining her view, she suggests that Whoopi is victim-blaming and would say the same thing to someone who survived sexual assault. On Instagram, she said, "So, if I go out to a party drinking and I wanna dance on the dance floor, do I deserve to be raped too?". Now I'm sorry yet again, don't start going on a parade by throwing this into the mix.

You got hacked and someone was going to leak naked photos of you. You decide to leak them yourself because you are not letting a man control your life. Then you compared it to drinking at a party, wanting to dance and asking if you deserved to be raped by doing that? Okay, how are these two even being compared? I'm not going to get too into this but think about it. Taking private photos are risky now with hackers, anyone can get into it without a problem. It's 2019, this has been going on for years. You say a man can't control your life so you release them anyway. A woman being raped at a party where she has no control is different. You chose to take pictures with the risk of them being leaked. A woman does not chose to be raped just because she is dancing at a party. Sorry, there's a difference.

Sorry Bella Thorne, but Whoopi Goldberg is not shaming you, she is not victim blaming. She is simply saying the truth.

Related Content

Facebook Comments