Stephen Hawking is no more.
The 76-year-old physicist breathed his last today, more than 5 decades after the doctors had told him ‘you have only two years left’. Dr. Hawking’s theories and ideas changed the way we look at space and time, but his life was as much about hope and persistence as it was about science.
Here we discuss 12 interesting facts about Dr. Hawking that reflect the ups and downs of the amazing life that he led.
1. Stephen Hawking was born on Galileo’s death anniversary and passed away on Einstein’s birth date.
Stephen Hawking was born January 8, 1942 on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death. Interestingly, he died today, March 14th, on the anniversary of Albert Einstein’s birth.
2. Stephen was actually a mediocre student in school.
It’s tough to believe but the man who changed our views about black hole and the universe at large, did not get very good marks in school. In fact, he couldn’t even properly read until he was 8 years old.
3. He disliked biology, which probably explained why he went into quantum physics.
As per certain reports, Hawking’s father wanted him to study medicine but he was always more inclined towards Mathematics. He found biology ‘too inexact, too descriptive’ and wanted to learn more precise and well-defined concepts.
4. Because of his love for creating things, he was nicknamed Einstein in school.
Despite his poor grades, Hawking was nicknamed ‘Einstein’ by his classmates after he built a computer with his friends as a teenager. He also had an almost unbelievable understanding about space and time, which shocked everyone.
5. He was a member of Oxford’s rowing team.
He got into Oxford at the age of 17, on full scholarship. He joined the rowing team of the college because he initially felt lonely there. He was recruited for the position where the athlete does not row but controls the direction of the boat, quit after he was diagnosed with the rare Lou Gehrig’s disease when he was just 21.
6. One of his biggest discoveries is ‘the boundless universe’ theory.
One of Hawking’s biggest achievements is coming up with the theory that the universe is boundless, with partner Jim Hartle in 1983.
7. He once lost a bet on black holes.
Stephen Hawking was of the view that information that goes inside a black hole gets destroyed after its evaporation. He made a bet on this with fellow scientists, but later came the ‘information paradox’ which says that the said concept conflicted with the rules of quantum mechanics. Technically, the bet is still on but we’ll probably never know whether he won it or not.
8. He made multiple appearances on TV.
The animated version of Stephen Hawking appeared on The Simpsons for which he lent his voice himself. He was also seen on Star Trek: Next Generation, sharing jokes with Einstein and Newton. He has also featured in documentary shows like Stephen Hawking: Master of the Universe and Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking.
9. His book ‘A Brief History of Time’ was the bestseller of its time.
‘A Brief History of Time’ appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
10. He has written books for children, as well.
Now this comes as a surprise, right? Stephen and his daughter Lucy Hawking, collaborated to write ‘George’s Secret Key to the Universe’ which is based on the life of a little boy who likes technology but his parents don’t. He also wrote the sequel to it, named ‘George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt’.
11. Scientists took him to a zero gravity shuttle once just to lift him from his wheelchair and make him happy.
Hawking was able to experience zero-gravity and float out of his wheelchair, for the first time in 4 decades, thanks to Zero Gravity Corp, a service involving an airplane ride in which sharp ascent and descent allows passengers to experience weightlessness in flight.
12. Despite his groundbreaking discoveries, he was never nominated for a Nobel Prize.
Hawking’s scientific works include ‘gravitational singularity theorems’ in collaboration with Roger Penrose, in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, called Hawking radiation by people. But the Nobel Prize always remained elusive to him.
Hawking is not there with us anymore but his work is and his words are.
As pointed out by many, he hasn’t died, he has just figured out a way to go into some unknown dimension or maybe he’s just travelling in time and having fun. How we wish it’s true.
It was a pleasure to be living in the same planet as you, ‘Einstein’. We will miss you.