Okay, you are here, so you are curious about Professor Stephen Hawking. In this section, we have a brief biography of him.
Professor Stephen William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England, which is exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo. From a very early age Hawking showed the qualities of a scientist, he was always inquisitive. He liked to build models to see how things worked.
Hawking went to the High School for Girls (yes, the school was supposed to be for girls) at St. Albans at the age of 8. Later, he switched to St. Albans School by passing the eleven-plus examination. Hawking was a keen child, but he was not the brightest in his competitive A stream class. Some of his classmates did not believe he could do well, though they gave him the nickname of Einstein.
Hawking's father who was a doctor, wanted him to study medicine at Oxford. However, he was more interested in Mathematics. It turned out that he studied Physics, as the University College did not provide degree studies in Mathematics. Hawking was awarded a first class honors degree in Natural Science after 3 years of studies, without doing much work, as he described in his auto-biography.
At the age of 20, Hawking went on to do research in Cosmology at Cambridge. This was also about the time when he was diagnosed with the incurable disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). He slowly lost control of his muscles and was told would die within a few years. At first, Hawking was shocked and upset. He could not find a reason for living before he met his wife Jane Wilde. Later the progress of his illness slowed down, and he finished his Ph.D.
Hawking has been a Researcher Fellow and later on a Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He left the Institute of Astronomy in 1973, and took the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics since 1979.
Hawking's studies mainly concern with the basic laws that govern the universe. From 1965 to 1970, Hawking showed with Roger Penrose of Birkbeck College, London 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 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 begun!
Unfortunately in 1985, Hawking caught pneumonia and had a tracheotomy operation, which removed his voice. He had some difficult time to communicate with others. This situation was not relieved until he had a small portable computer and a speech synthesizer fitted to his wheelchair by David Mason of Cambridge. But another problem arose as the synthesizer gave this English physicist an American accent.
Overcoming the obstacle of his illness, Professor Hawking has great contribution 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. Now he is continuing his research on theoretical Physics and giving public lectures around the world.
1. A Brief History of Time
2. Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays
First published in Great Britain in 1993 by Bantam Press, a division of Transworld Publishers Limited, London. Copyright (c) 1993 Stephen Hawking.
[Reference: Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, Copyright (c) 1993 Stephen Hawking.]
From: "Black holes aren't black - After Hawking they shine!" /C007571 Presented by Angie, Matthias and Thorsten Team C007571, ThinkQuest Internet Challenge 2000 (http://www.thinkquest.org). Last modified: 2000-08-13.