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    British physicist Stephen Hawking looks, on his screen, at an animated clipping of himself with cartoon characters from popular television serial 'The Simpsons', while addressing a public lecture on 'Science in the future', in Bombay Sunday, Jan. 14, 2001

    To Infinity & Beyond, the Life & Legacy of Stephen Hawking

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    A man who dedicated his life to understanding the universe has departed from it. Theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, actor, cartoon character, father, grandfather and husband, Stephen Hawking has died aged 76.

    Born in Oxford on 8 January 1942, Hawking grew up in London until he was eight years old and moved with his family to St. Albans. In 1959 and aged 17, Hawking secured a place at University College, Oxford to read physics. After three years, Hawking was awarded a first class honours degree in Natural Science.

    Hawkings continued onto Cambridge University to research cosmology at the Institute of Astronomy under the supervision of Denis Sciama, who was considered to be one of the fathers of modern cosmology. It was at Cambridge University Hawking met his first wife, Jane Wilde.

    ​After gaining his doctorate degree Hawking became a research fellow and later a professional fellow. He joined the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in 1979, where he held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics until 2009, a position also held by Sir Isaac Newton in 1669.

    ​In 1963, Professor Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, when he was 21 years old. In 1964 he proposed to Jane Wilde, they married on 14 July 1965. Their son Robert was born in May 1967, daughter Lucy in 1970 and another son, Timothy in 1979.

    ​But as Hawking's illness deteriorated, the couple grew apart. Hawking needed more care from nurses and assistants and Jane needed more help to run the household and pursue her own academic career. In 1990, Hawking told Jane he was leaving her for one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. He divorced Jane and married Elaine in 1995.

    ​Hawking's health condition continued to deteriorate and he gradually lost the use of his hand. In 2005 he began to control his computerized communication device with movements made by his cheek muscles.

    In 2006, Hawking and Mason divorced and he resumed closer relationships with his ex-wife Jane, their children and three grandchildren. In the same year he was awarded the Coplet Medal from the Royal Society.

    ​In 2007, 'Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen', a book written by Jane about the breakdown of their marriage was revised. By 2009, Hawking could no longer drive his motorized wheelchair independently.

    In the same year, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civil honor and in 2013, he was awarded the Russian Special Fundamental Physics Prize. 'Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen', written (and revised) by Hawing's first wife, was made into an Oscar winning film in 2014.

    ​Professor Hawking made many TV and film cameos, including, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Genius of Britain, The Big Bang Theory, University Challenge, and Little Britain for Comic Relief.

    ​Hawking also appeared in cartoon form in Futurama and The Simpsons.

    A scientist who hoped to travel into space one day, Hawking relentlessly worked on understanding the basic laws which govern the universe. He showed that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity implied that space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and end in black holes.

    READ MORE: Hawking Sheds Light on What Happened Before the Universe was Born

    By unifying General Relativity with Quantum Theory, Professor Hawking discovered that black holes in space should not be completely black — but rather emit radiation, evaporate and disappear.

    During his life, Hawking was awarded 12 honorary degrees, his research implied the way the universe began was totally determined by the laws of science; the universe has no edge or boundary in imaginary time.

    ​In spite of being wheelchair bound and dependent on a computerized voice system to communicate, Hawking's legacy lives to infinity and beyond.

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    Tags:
    theory of relativity, quantum physics, physics, death, science, oxford university, University of Cambridge, Stephen Hawking, Cambridge, Oxford, Universe, Earth, Space
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