World renowned British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has died at his home in Cambridge. He was 76.
Stephen Hawking is the legendary British theoretical physicist who explored the mysteries of the universe from his wheelchair and went on to become an inspiring figure globally.
Hawking was born in Oxford, England, on January 8, 1942 — the 300th anniversary of the death of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei. He was suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was diagnosed in 1963, when he was 21. The illness gradually robbed him of mobility, leaving him confined to a wheelchair, almost completely paralysed and unable to speak except through his trademark voice synthesiser.
He went on to study at Cambridge and became one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Albert Einstein. He became one of the youngest fellows of Britain’s most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society in 1974. In 1979 he was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, where he had moved from Oxford University to study theoretical astronomy and cosmology.
He was known for his groundbreaking work with black holes and relativity, and was the author of several popular science books including a Brief History of Time. It was ‘A Brief History of Time’ that made Hawking to stardom. Published for the first time in 1988, the title made the Guinness Book of Records after it stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an unprecedented 237 weeks. It sold 10 million copies and was translated into 40 different languages. There was even a biopic about his life, The Theory of Everything, that won an Oscar for the actor, Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed Hawking.
Hawking won the Albert Einstein Award, the Wolf Prize, the Copley Medal, and the Fundamental Physics Prize. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US’s highest civilian honor, in 2009 by president Barack Obama.