Stephen Hawking

Stephen William Hawking was born on January 8, 1942. He is a theoretical physicist of amazing talent. His main work has been in the area of black holes, which may seem like an esoteric branch of physics, but there is a lot of interest in them right now. Hawking postulated that black holes weren’t really “black,” because according to quantum theory, energy could sometimes escape from them. This energy has come to be called Hawking Radiation.

But it’s not just his genius that has made him a well know figure. At the age of 21 he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and given a very few years to live. He is now 75 and has children and grandchildren. Hawking has also done a lot to popularize physics with such books for lay persons as A Brief History of Time. He also does speaking appearances, such as the one I went to when I lived in Seattle.

For much of his professional life, he was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a post once held by Isaac Newton. Though he retired from that position, Hawking is still an active part of Cambridge University and retains an office at the Department for Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics. His title is now the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.

Hawking has twelve honorary degrees and has been awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.)


Quotes by Stephen Hawking

At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was twelve, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don’t know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided…

If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.

f you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well.

I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.

Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.

When asked about his IQ: I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.

I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.

Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.

I have so much that I want to do. I hate wasting time.

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