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Friday, 12 June 2015

Stephen Hawking

The physicist Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, which was 300 years to the day after Galileo died.

Hawking began his university education at University College, Oxford in October 1959 at the age of 17, where he studied physics and chemistry.

During his time there he joined the University College Boat Club, where he coxed a rowing team.
The then coach described Hawking as the team's daredevil, as he often led the team to risky paths that would result in damaged boats.

In October 1962 he started his graduate course at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Despite being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, during his time there, Hawking  finished his PhD and wrote about black holes in his thesis. He then got a fellowship (a job as a university teacher) at Gonville and Caius College in 1965.

Hawking suffers from a rare early-onset, slow-progressing form of motor neuron disease that has gradually paralyzed him over the decades. He now communicates using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device.

When Hawking was a graduate student at Cambridge, his relationship with a friend of his sister, Jane Wilde, whom he had met shortly before his diagnosis with motor neuron disease, continued to develop. The couple married on July 14, 1965.

Hawking's views of religion contrasted with Jane's strong Christian faith and resulted in tension. He told The Guardian: "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

Half way through writing his popular science bookA Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking fell into a coma and his wife was asked if she wanted the doctors to switch off the life-support. She refused and fortunately he came around.

A Brief History of Time was published in 1988. It was on the London Sunday Times bestseller list for more than four years and had been translated into 35 languages by 2001 (see below).

In the late 1980s, Hawking had grown close to one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. Hawking told Jane that he was leaving her for Mason and departed the family home in February 1990. After his divorce from Jane in 1995, Hawking married Mason in September of that year,

When asked what his IQ was, Stephen Hawking said "I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers".

Stephen Hawking once 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."

Before his 70th birthday, Stephen Hawking was asked what he thinks about most. He replied: "Women. They are a complete mystery."

Stephen Hawking's son, Tim, admits to putting swear words into his father's voice synthesizer just to hear it curse.

Stephen Hawking can have a normal more "modernized" voice however he chooses to keep the robotic voice because he considers it to be "his own personal voice."

Stephen Hawking tried to lure time travelers to his house by throwing a party on June 28, 2009, complete with hors d'oeuvres, then sending out invitations later. Nobody showed up.

A biographical film, The Theory of Everything, was released in 2014. Based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking, it deals with her relationship with her ex-husband.

When Jane saw the movie script for The Theory of Everything, she deleted all the F-words, saying "Scientists in the 1960s and 70s didn't use the F-word and I'm pretty sure they don't now either."

Stephen Hawking is the only person to ever play himself in the Star Trek universe.

Hawking has contributed to two Pink Floyd tracks. He lent his voice synthesizer to "Keep Talking" and "Talkin' Hawkin." The latter track uses a sample of Hawking's synthesized voice taken from a speech he made for a 1994 British Telecom commercial.

Stephen Hawking died in his Cambridge home, early in the morning of March 14, 2018. Having been born on the date of Galileo's death, he passed away on the date of Albert Einstein's birth.

Stephen Hawking’s DNA is saved in digital form on a large memory device called the Immortality Drive on the International Space Station.

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