William Hawking (born January 8 1942) is one of the world's leading
theoretical physicists. Hawking is Lucasian professor of mathematics
at the University of Cambridge (a post once held by Isaac Newton), and
a fellow of Gonville and Caius College. The fact that he holds this
post while being almost completely incapacitated with severe Amyotrophic
Lateral Sclerosis has made him a worldwide celebrity.
Hawking was born in Oxford, England to Frank and Isobel Hawking as their
first child. He was educated at St Albans School, Hertfordshire and
University College, Oxford, where he obtained a first class honours
degree in physics. He moved to Cambridge University to complete his
PhD in cosmology at Trinity Hall.
principal fields of research are theoretical cosmology and quantum gravity.
In 1971, he provided mathematical support for the big-bang theory of
the origin of the universe; if the general theory of relativity was
correct the universe must have a singularity, or starting point, in
space-time. Hawking also suggested that following the big bang primordial,
or mini black holes were formed. He showed that the surface area of
a black hole can increase but never decrease, that there is a limit
on the radiation emitted when black holes collide, and that a single
black hole cannot break apart into two separate black holes. In 1974,
he calculated that black holes thermally create and emit subatomic particles
until they exhaust their energy and explode. Known as Hawking radiation,
it linked gravity, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics mathematically
for the first time. In 1981, Hawking proposed that although the universe
has no boundary, it is finite in space-time, and in 1983 he proved this
of being severely disabled by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (a
form of Motor Neuron Disease), he is highly active in physics, writing,
and public life. He first began to show symptoms of the disorder while
enrolled in Cambridge. He was diagnosed at the age of 21, shortly before
his first marriage. At the time, doctors said he would not live more
than about two or three years longer. He battled the odds and has survived
much longer, although he has become increasingly disabled by the gradual
progress of the disease. He has used an electronic voice synthesizer
to communicate since he had a tracheostomy in 1985 following a severe
bout of pneumonia. He gradually lost the use of his arms, legs and voice
and is now almost completely paralyzed. The computer system attached
to his wheelchair is operated by Hawking manually through a single switch,
and software called "Equalizer" and "EZKeys" which
lets him talk, create speeches, research papers and books, browse the
internet, write e-mails and do everything else that one can use a computer
for. It also allows control over doors, lights and lifts in his home
and at the office via a radio transmitter system.
remembered chiefly for his science, there is every chance that he would
never have made the discoveries he has were it not for the support of
his family. Although he divorced Jane in 1990 (they had 3 children -
named Tim, Lucy and Robert - and now have a grandchild), Hawking is
still something of a family man. Relationships drive him, not physics.
In spite of his disease he describes himself as "lucky" -
not just because its slow progress allowed him time to make influential
discoveries but because it afforded him time to have, in his own words,
"a very attractive family" (http://www.hawking.org.uk/disable/dindex.html).
When Jane was asked why she decided to marry a man with a 3-year life
expectancy, she responded: "These were the days of atomic gloom
and doom, so we all had rather a short life expectancy". He married
his second wife Elaine Mason in 1995.
His two books A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell
have remained highly popular all over the world and are now classic
best-sellers. Anyone interested in the universe, cosmos and how it all
began can read them: no previous knowledge in this field is required
to enjoy these books. A collection of essays by him - Black Holes and
Baby Universes and Other Essays is also extremely popular.
as himself on Star Trek TNG
In popular culture, he has become a widely admired figure as a genius
who has had a successful life despite his severe disability. He had
a guest appearance in an episode on the holodeck of the television series
Star Trek: The Next Generation, playing poker with Data, Albert Einstein,
and Isaac Newton in the episode "Descent, Part I"; perhaps
a tribute to his status is that he remains the only person to have appeared
as himself in an episode of Star Trek. While passing through the Main
Engineering set, Hawking paused near the warp engine, smiled, and said,
"I'm working on that." The animated television series The
Simpsons and Futurama have occasionally featured him in episodes, and
a character playing Hawking has appeared in the television series Dilbert.
On Late Night with Conan O'Brien he participated in a bit with Jim Carrey.
He also lent his voice to the Pink Floyd song "Keep Talking"
from The Division Bell. A Hawking-like character named "Professor
Hawk" who used a robot-like voice while flying around in a hawk
suit has appeared on a cartoon episode of Dexter's Laboratory. A parody
website even has a Hawking-like voice synthesizer rapping about physics
is famous for his oft-made statement, "When I hear of Schrödinger's
cat, I reach for my gun." This was a deliberately ironic paraphrase
of Hermann Göring's anti-intellectual quote, "When I hear
the word 'culture', I reach for my Browning", which itself was
from a play by German playwright and Nazi Poet Laureate, Hanns Johst.
William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 (300 years after the death
of Galileo) in Oxford, England. His parents' house was in north London,
but during the second world war Oxford was considered a safer place
to have babies. When he was eight, his family moved to St Albans, a
town about 20 miles north of London. At eleven Stephen went to St Albans
School, and then on to University College, Oxford, his father's old
college. Stephen wanted to do Mathematics, although his father would
have preferred medicine. Mathematics was not available at University
College, so he did Physics instead. After three years and not very much
work he was awarded a first class honours degree in Natural Science.
Stephen then went on to Cambridge to do research in Cosmology, there
being no-one working in that area in Oxford at the time. His supervisor
was Denis Sciama, although he had hoped to get Fred Hoyle who was working
in Cambridge. After gaining his Ph.D. he became first a Research Fellow,
and later on a Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. After
leaving the Institute of Astronomy in 1973 Stephen came to the Department
of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and since 1979 has held
the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. The chair was founded
in 1663 with money left in the will of the Reverend Henry Lucas, who
had been the Member of Parliament for the University. It was first held
by Isaac Barrow, and then in 1663 by Isaac Newton.
Stephen Hawking has worked on the basic laws which govern the universe.
With Roger Penrose he showed that Einstein’s General Theory of
Relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big
Bang and an end in black holes. These results indicated it was necessary
to unify General Relativity with Quantum Theory, the other great Scientific
development of the first half of the 20th Century. One consequence of
such a unification that he discovered was that black holes should not
be completely black, but should emit radiation and eventually evaporate
and disappear. Another conjecture is that the universe has no edge or
boundary in imaginary time. This would imply that the way the universe
began was completely determined by the laws of science.
His many publications include The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime
with G F R Ellis, General Relativity: An Einstein Centenary Survey,
with W Israel, and 300 Years of Gravity, with W Israel. Stephen Hawking
has two popular books published; his best seller A Brief History of
Time, and his later book, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays.
Professor Hawking has twelve honorary degrees, was awarded the CBE in
1982, and was made a Companion of Honour in 1989. He is the recipient
of many awards, medals and prizes and is a Fellow of The Royal Society
and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
is the author of many works in theoretical physics including A Brief
History of Time and of Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays
Professor Stephen William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 in Oxford,
England. His father was actually based in London as a doctor and this
birthplace is as a result of concerns about safety in wartime.
When he was eight years old the family moved to St. Albans, about 20
miles north of London. At St. Albans School where he attended after
age 11 he did well but not appear to be amongst the brightest of students.
Hawking's father wanted him to study medicine at Oxford but he was more
interested in Mathematics and it eventually transpired that in 1959
he began to study Physics, as University College, which was his father's
old college, did not offer degree courses in Mathematics. Although he
states in his autobiography that he did not do much work he was nevertheless
awarded a first class honors degree in Natural Science in 1962.
He subsequently went on to do research in Cosmology at Cambridge. His
life was complicated by his becoming aware of suffering from an illness
that was diagnosed as the incurable disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral
Sclerosis). He was much discomfited by being advised that he would suffer
a progressive loss of muscle control and that his life expectancy would
be curtailed but with the support of family and friends, including Jane
Wilde whom he later married, the progress of his illness slowed down,
and he finished his Ph.D.
He worked in various research and teaching roles for a number of years.
From 1965 to 1970 he, together with Roger Penrose of Birkbeck College,
London, showed that there would be a Big Bang singularity by considering
Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Between 1970 and 1974, Hawking
concentrated his studies on black holes. He combined Quantum Mechanics
with General Relativity into the theory of Hawking Radiation in 1974.
In 1979 he was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the Department
of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University.
This professorship had previously been held by a number of particularly
eminent mathematicians including Isaac Newton (1664-1669) and Charles
In 1983 Hawking and Jim Hurtle of the University of California at Santa
Barbara suggested that there is no edge for space and time though they
are finite in extent. This implies that the laws of science would be
able to determine how the universe had begun!
In 1985 Hawking was unfortunate in contracting a bout of pneumonia that
necessitated a tracheotomy operation which removed his powers of speech.
Amongst other things this eventuality obviously gave rise to further
serious inconvenience in his professional life. The situation was relieved
by the fitting of a small portable computer and a speech synthesizer
to his wheelchair by David Mason of Cambridge. This arrangement however
resulted in the English physicist Stephen Hawking now communicating
with an American accent.
Overcoming the obstacle of his illness, Professor Hawking has made great
very significant contributions in Physics and has received many awards,
medals and prizes worldwide. So far he has been awarded 12 honorary
degrees. He received his Commander of the British Empire (CBE) title
in 1982 and the Companion of Honor (CH) in 1989. He is a Fellow of the
US National Academy of Sciences.
Stephen Hawking continues to combine family life (he has three children
and grandchildren are arriving), and his research into theoretical physics
together with an extensive programme of travel and public lectures.
He spends about three months of the year outside the United Kingdom
and delivers lectures around the world.