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Stephen Hawking, the scientist who touched lives beyond labs

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Unlike Newton and Einstein, who contributed to a wide range of fields, Stephen Hawking focused on cosmology where he made significant contributions ever since his graduate student days in Cambridge University, U.K.

In 1962, one day he had difficulty tying his shoelaces. It was no small problem and he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a motor neuron disease. The incurable disease could be fatal and he was given two years to live by doctors. He was then just over 22 years. He did go into a depression, doubly so because his dream of working with the famous cosmologist Fred Hoyle in Cambridge did not materialise. It was then that his relationship with Jane Wilde, whom he later married, deepened and helped pull him out. He went on to do his PhD under the supervision of Dennis Sciama in Cambridge University’s physics department.

Stephen Hawking is the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time which was an international bestseller. My Brief History recounts Stephen Hawking’s improbable journey, from his post-war London boyhood to his years of international acclaim and celebrity.

Professor Stephen William Hawking was born on 8th January 1942 (exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo) in Oxford, England. His parents’ house was in north London but during the second world war Oxford was considered a safer place to have babies. When he was eight his family moved to St. Albans, a town about 20 miles north of London. At the age of eleven, Stephen went to St. Albans School and then on to University College, Oxford (1952); his father’s old college. Stephen wanted to study mathematics although his father would have preferred medicine. Mathematics was not available at University College, so he pursued physics instead. After three years and not very much work, he was awarded a first class honours degree in natural science.

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