Friday, February 17, 2012

Stephen Hawking


Synopsis

Stephen Hawking was born January 8, 1942 in Oxford, England. From an early age, he showed a passion for science and the sky. At age 21, while studying cosmology at Cambridge, Hawking was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Despite his debilitating illness, he has done ground-breaking work in physics and cosmology and his several books strive to make science accessible to everyone.

Early Life

The eldest of Frank and Isobel Hawking's four children, Stephen William Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo, which has long been a source of pride for the noted physicist. Stephen was born into a family of thinkers. At a time when few women thought of going to college, the Scottish born Isobel earned her way into Oxford University in the 1930s, making her one of the college's first female students. Frank Hawking, another Oxford graduate, was a respected medical researcher with a specialty in tropical diseases.

Stephen Hawking's birth came at an inopportune time for his parents, who didn't have much money. The political climate was also tense, as England was dealing with World War II and the onslaught of German bombs. In an effort to seek a safer place to have their first child, Frank moved his pregnant wife from their London home to Oxford. The Hawkings would go on to have two other children, Mary (1943) and Philippa (1947). A second son, Edward, was adopted in 1956.

The Hawkings, as one close family friend described them, were an "eccentric" bunch. Dinner was often eaten in silence, each of the Hawkings intently reading a book. The family car was an old London taxi and their home in St. Albans was a three-story fixer-upper that never quite got fixed. The Hawkings also kept bees in the basement, and made fireworks in the greenhouse.

In 1950, Stephen's father took work as the head of the Division of Parasitology at the National Institute of Medical Research, and spent the winter months in Africa doing research. He wanted his oldest child to go into medicine, but from an early age Stephen showed a passion for science and the sky. That was evident to his mother who, along with her children, often stretched out in the backyard on summer evenings to stare up at the stars. "Stephen always had a strong sense of wonder," she remembered. "And I could see that the stars would draw him."

Early in his academic life Stephen, while recognized as bright, was not an exceptional student. At one point in high school, his mother recalled, he was third from the bottom of his class. Instead, Stephen turned his mind loose on pursuits outside of school. He loved board games, and with a few close friends created new games of their own. At the age of 16 Stephen, along with several other buddies, constructed a computer out of recycled parts for solving rudimentary mathematical equations.

He was also on the go a lot. "Always on the move," said a family friend. "Hardly ever still." With his sister Mary, Stephen, who loved to climb, devised different entry
routes into the family home. He remained active even after he entered Oxford University at the age of 17. He loved to dance, and also took an interest in rowing, becoming one of the Oxford rowing team's coxswain.

To his father's chagrin, Hawking finally said no to medicine, instead expressing a desire to study mathematics. But since Oxford didn't offer a mathematics degree, Hawking gravitated toward physics and, more specifically, cosmology.

By his own account, Hawking didn't put much time into his studies. He would later calculate that he averaged about an hour a day focusing on school. And yet, he didn't really have to do much more than that. In 1962, he graduated with honors and moved on to Cambridge University for a Ph.D. in cosmology.

ALS Diagnosis

While Stephen first began to notice problems with his physical health at Oxford—on occasion he would trip and fall, or slur his speech— he didn't look into the problem until 1963, during his first year at Cambridge. For the most part, Hawking had kept these minor symptoms to himself. But when his father took notice of the condition, he sent Stephen to see a doctor. For the next two weeks, the 21-year-old college student made his home at a medical clinic, where he underwent a series of tests.

"They took a muscle sample from my arm, stuck electrodes into me, and injected some radio opaque fluid into my spine, and watched it going up and down with x-rays, as they tilted the bed," he said. "After all that, they didn't tell me what I had, except that it was not multiple sclerosis, and that I was an a-typical case."

Eventually, however, doctors did inform the Hawkings about what was ailing their son: he was in the early stages of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease). In a very simple sense, the nerves that controled his muscles were shutting down. Doctors gave him two-and-half years to live.

It was devastating news for Stephen and his family. A few events, however, prevented him from becoming completely despondent. The first of these came while Hawking was still in the hospital. There, he shared a room with a boy suffering from leukemia. Relative to what his roommate was going through, Stephen reflected later, his situation seemed more tolerable. Not long after he was released from the hospital, Hawking had a dream he was going to be executed. He said this dream made him realize that there were still things to do with his life.

But the most significant change in his life was the fact that he was in love. At a New Year's part in 1963, shortly before he had been diagnosed with ALS, Stephen Hawking met a young languages undergraduate named Jane Wilde. They were married in 1965.

In a sense, Hawking's disease helped him become the noted scientist he is today. Before the diagnosis, Stephen Hawking hadn't always focused on his studies. "I was bored with life before my illness," he said. "There had not seemed to be anything worth doing."
With the sudden realization that he might not even live long enough to earn his Ph.D., Hawking pored himself into his work and research.

Research on Black Holes


Groundbreaking findings from another young cosmologist, Roger Penrose, about the fate of stars and the creation of black holes tapped into Hawking's own fascination with how the universe began. This set him on a career course that reshaped the way the world thinks about black holes and the universe.

While physical control over his body diminished (he'd be forced to use a wheelchair by 1969), the effects of his disease started to slow down. In 1968, a year after the birth of his son Robert, Stephen Hawking became a member of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge.

The next few years were a fruitful time for Hawking. A daughter, Lucy, was born to Stephen and Jane in 1969 (a third child, Timothy, arrived 10 years later), while Hawking continued with his research. He then published his first book, the highly technical Large Scale Structure of Space Time (1975). He also teamed up with Penrose to expand upon his friend's earlier work.

In 1974, Stephen Hawking's research turned him into a celebrity within the scientific world when he showed that black holes aren't the information vacuum that scientists had thought they were. In simple terms, Hawking demonstrated that matter, in the form of radiation, can escape the gravitational force of a collapsed star. Hawking Radiation was born.

The announcement sent shockwaves of excitement through the scientific world, and put Hawking on a path that's been marked by honors, notoriety, and distinguished titles. He was named a fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 32, and later earned the prestigious Albert Einstein Award. In 1975 he journeyed to Rome, where he was honored with the Pius XI Gold Medal for Science from Pope Paul VI.

Teaching stints followed, too. One at Caltech at Pasadena, California, where Hawking served as visiting professor for a year. Another at Gonville & Caius College in Cambridge, England. In 1979, Hawking found himself back at Cambridge University, where he was named to one of teaching's most renowned posts: the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. Dating back to 1663, the position has had just 14 other office holders, including Sir Isaac Newton.

 

 

A Brief History of Time

Hawking's ever-expanding career was accompanied, however, by his ever-worsening physical state. By the mid-1970s, the Hawking family had taken in one of Stephen's graduate students to help manage his care and work. He could still feed himself and get out of bed, but virtually everything else required assistance. In addition, his speech had become increasingly slurred, so that only those who knew him well could understand him. In 1985 he lost his voice for good following a tracheotomy operation. The resulting situation required 24-hour nursing care for the acclaimed physicist.

It also put in peril Hawking's ability to do his work. The predicament caught the attention
of a California computer programmer, who had developed a speaking program that could be directed by head or eye movement. The invention allowed Hawking to select words on a computer screen that were then passed through a speech synthesizer. At the time of its introduction, Hawking, who still had use of his fingers, selected his words with a hand-held clicker. Today, with virtually all control of his body gone, Hawking directs the program through a cheek muscle attached to a sensor.

Through the program, and the help of assistants, Stephen Hawking has continued to write at a prolific rate. His work has included numerous scientific papers, of course, but also information for the non-scientific community, too.

In 1988 Hawking, a recipient of the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, catapulted to international prominence with the publication of A Brief History of Time. The short, informative book became an account of cosmology for the masses. The work was an instant success, spending more than four years atop the London Sunday Times' bestseller list. Since its publication, it has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 40 languages. But it also wasn't as easy to understand as some had hoped. So in 2001, Hawking followed up his book with The Universe in a Nutshell, which offered a more illustrated guide to cosmology's big theories. Four years later, he authored the even more accessible, A Briefer History of Time.

Together the books, along with Hawking's own research and papers, articulate the physicist's personal search for science's Holy Grail: a single unifying theory that can combine cosmology (the study of the big) with quantum mechanics (the study of the small) to explain how the universe began. It's this kind of ambitious thinking that has allowed Hawking, who claims he can think in 11 dimensions, to lay out some big possibilities for humankind. He's convinced that time travel is possible, and that humans may indeed colonize other planets in the future.

Space Travel and Further Fame

Hawking's quest for big answers to big questions includes his own personal desire to travel into space. In 2007, at the age of 65, Hawking made an important step toward space travel. While visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he was given the opportunity to experience an environment without gravity. Over the course of two hours over the Atlantic, Hawking, a passenger on a modified Boeing 727, was freed from his wheelchair to experience bursts of weightlessness. Pictures of the freely floating physicist splashed across newspapers around the globe.

"The zero-G part was wonderful and the higher-G part was no problem. I could have gone on and on. Space, here I come!" he said.

If there is such a thing as a rock star scientist , Stephen Hawking embodies it. His forays into popular culture have included guest appearances on The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation a comedy spoof with comedian Jim Carrey on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, even a recorded voice-over on the Pink Floyd song, "Keep Talking." In 1992, Oscar winning filmmaker, Errol Morris, released a documentary about Hawking's life aptly titled A Brief History of Time.

Of course, as it is with any celebrity, fame has brought with it an interest in Stephen Hawking's personal life. And there have been some news-making events. In 1990, Stephen left his wife Jane for one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. The two were married in 1995, and the marriage put a strain on Hawking's relationship with his own children, who claimed Elaine closed off their father from them. In 2004, nurses looking after Hawking reported their suspicions to police that Elaine was physically abusing her husband. Hawking denied the allegations, and the police investigation was called off.

In 2006, however, Hawking and Elaine filed for divorce. In the years since, the physicist has apparently grown closer with his family. He's reconciled with Jane, who has remarried, and published a science book for children with his daughter, Lucy.

Hawking's health, of course, remains a constant concern—a worry that was heightened in early 2009 when he failed to appear at a conference in Arizona because of a chest infection. In April 2009, Hawking, who had already announced he was retiring after 30 years from the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, was rushed to the hospital for being what university officials described as "gravely ill." It was later announced that he was expected to make a full recovery.

Hawking is scheduled to fly to the edge of space as one of Sir Richard Branson's pioneer space tourists. He said when asked about the subject in 2007, "Many people have asked me why I am taking this flight. I am doing it for many reasons... First of all, I believe that life on Earth is at an ever increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go into space. I therefore want to encourage public interest in space."

In September 2010, Stephen Hawking spoke against the idea that God could have created the universe in his book, The Grand Design. Hawking previously argued that belief in a creator could be compatible with modern scientific theories. His new work, however, concludes that the Big Bang was the inevitable consequence of the laws of physics and nothing more. "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," Hawking says. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist."

The Grand Design is Hawking's first major publication in almost a decade. Within his new work, Hawking sets out to challenge Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe had to have been designed by God, simply because it could not have been born from chaos. "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going," Hawking said.

Stephen Hawking [Internet]. 2012. http://www.biography.com/people/stephen-hawking-9331710, February 17

21 comments:

  1. It's Roger PENROSE. I suggest you change that, now.

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    1. Thank you so much for spotting that and informing me. I have changed it accordingly. Have a great day!

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    2. Anon - some tact, perhaps? A wonderful gathering of information and you can't be bothered to use some class in your demanding?

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  2. this man is crazy this man, this fool, he can die at any time, and he do not recognise the ALMIGHTY created everything, he will be sorry all the eternity in hell, sorry for him
    how much knowledge, and with all that knowledge without wisdom from above, take him to eternal torment

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    1. Stupid old lady....I think more fools are in the world like you...There is no divine power upon us....Bible and God are all Mythology....no one can prove that god created the universe.
      Actually Bible is full of porn:
      The Dark Bible
      Sex, Obscenities, Filth

      Biblical Pornography - (Ezekiel 23: 19-21)
      Cain's Wife? - (Genesis 4:17)
      David Uncovers Himself - (II Samuel 6:14-20)
      Death To Adulterers - (Leviticus 20:10-13)
      Drugs And Aphrodisiacs - (Song of Solomon 7:11-13)
      Eat Human Feces - (Ezekiel 4:12-13)
      Eating Dung And Drinking Piss - (II Kings 18:27)
      Boil and Eat Your Son - (II Kings 6:28-29)
      Expose Her Breasts - (Nahum 3:5-6)
      Fatal Orgasm - (Genesis 38:7-10)
      Fecal disposal - (Deuteronomy 23:13-14)
      God Given Hemorrhoids - (Deuteronomy 28:27),(I Samuel 5:6,9)
      God's Bowel Diseases - (II Chronicles 21:14-15)
      God's Fecal Fetish - (Malachi 2:2-3)
      Howl And Strip Naked - (Micah 1:8)
      Incestuous Relations - (Genesis 2:23),(Genesis 4:1-2),(Genesis 4:17),(Gen. 20:12),(Gen. 19:30-38),(Gen. 38:16)
      Passing Gas - (Isaiah 16:11)
      Piss Crimes - (I Kings 14:10),(I Kings 16:8-11, I Kings 21:21, and II Kings 9:8-10.)
      Prophesy in the nude - (Isaiah 20:2-4)
      The Sacred Penis - (Deuteronomy 23:1-2)

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    2. I feel sorry for him, too. He's done so much in the scientific community, but fails to see that without God, there is no science.

      Jones, no one can prove that God didn't create the universe either. People say that there is no God, just random science. But what is science without God? How do you think science came to be? The earth, plants, animals, humans. How could it be random? And if it was all random, what purpose do we have to live for? Life doesn't make sense without God. I'll keep you in my prayers.

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    3. that lady up there is wow!

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    4. I'm sorry but I completely agree with Jones.

      You are all complete idiots, especially that old woman at the top. God does NOT exist, nor has he ever existed. It's quite obviously a ridiculous book written thousands of years ago that meant nothing but someone made into something, and you sheep all still follow it like it's the be all and end all. It's absolute bull, and the sooner people in our society realise that, then the sooner we become an intelligent race in my eyes.

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    5. I feel sorry for you atheists out there!

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    6. Please don't waste your breath pitying us. There are no winners in this argument. We will never know.

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  3. A man, gravely ill for over 40 years, with an immense courage to LIVE, to explore and face the most difficult aspects of reality, without fear to express his personal beliefs, never giving up adapting his insights and studying... Stephen Hawking found the strength to go on in LOVE and wisdom from WITHIN.

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  4. Hello Jones. I am so happy that sex made you read the Bible.

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  5. I think people here are missing the point of this article. Steven Hawking is a genius and to be able to live the life he's lead took a hell of a lot more courage than it takes to post some lecture about religion on the internet. Just because he doesn't share your spiritual values, doesn't mean that he's crazy or you should feel sorry for him. He has contributed much more into the world than many of us will with a normally functioning body. This is not the place to be posting about the Bible, and attacking the choices of a public figure, go to People.com for that. This is also not the place to be delibrately offending people or poking fun at thier beliefs either, if you wanna do that log onto a discussion board. It is out of line to be judgemental of someone just because they chose to stay alive and pursue thier dreams as best they could. Life's not always about being able to move and talk, it's also about being with your friends and having something worth living for. So no, Steven Hawking is not crazy, and he doesn't need the wisdom of God(if he even exhists)he seems just fine as he is and is apparently able to make his decisions without worrying that he will burn in Hell for them. Earth is a beautiful place and, if it was all a random coincidence, there is still so fucking much to live for: Just because the world wasn't created by God, doesn't mean that it isn't beautiful, just look at all they ways an individual can be completely unique; Interests/Hobbies, opinions, sexual orentation, ice-cream flavor preferences, the list goes on and on. I personally do not believe in God, I think the Bible does have some good ideas in it, the whole thing just doesn't work for me, I believe in reincarnationa and I believe that this writer has worked extremly hard here. The material was easy to understand and well put together and who ever has written this should be proud!

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  6. Ask our-self.. What is GOD? I believe there is some power which is driving us. But no one can say if what it is.. May be the chapter will be clear someday. Till then just chill and enjoy life. :)

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  7. No one can prove God exists.
    No one can disprove God exists.

    I will say this though.

    Science will prove God exists or not.
    The Bible will not prove God exists or not.

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  8. Thank you for this article it helped me SO much on my research :)!
    Great Job!

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  9. by mistake I found this blogspot .. all this conversation is really interesting but God is much more important than science because God existed before "the foolish men" began reading science ..
    I have no doubt that Hawking is really genious scientist but would not be anything without God .. As smart as he is God permitted this, and God can finish it anytime..
    You cannot prove that God exist is FAITH, those are excuses that brilliant brains say to prove that universe was created by a BAAM..

    example:you can put a bomb in your room and next go to see if your room is tidy..

    human's brain is so poor which cannot understand the glory of God.

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  10. Wow, I knew this would somehow turn religious. We are all God. Many people do misplace the power into a human thought out being, like the Christian God (or any other). Many things are taken extremely literally from the Bible, which is a dangerously wrong thing to do. I feel sad for many people who actually think there is some guy watching out for them, and that he "created" them, no.....your mother and father created you, and their mothers and fathers, etc. Sometimes I cannot even fathom the idiocy of religious humans, I often wonder if they truly believe what they are saying they believe.

    No one can prove God exists.
    No one can disprove God exists.
    very true "Anonymous".....

    I find it funny how people protect or stick up for their god, or most times when a Christian tries to push his/her beliefs onto someone else. Just because you believe a certain way does not give you the right to try to make someone else believe the way you do. Everyone does have the right to believe whatever "story" they like, older or newer versions with different variations of god name. Same stories. In the end it all goes back to nature and science. I worship the seasons.

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  11. There is no freedom of thought within the imposed constraints of religion. What these religious missionaries do not know through ignorance is that scientists like hawking come up with their theories and then through countless experimentation and repetition, try to DISPROVE their hypotheses. It's only when the data cannot be disproved that new scientific knowledge can be declared. This has proven to be a very effective way for society to progress and move away from the dark ages. In contrast the fanatical religious types who feel the need to condemn other innocent people like Hawkin to eternally burn in the pits of Hell, tend to be those who have had these beliefs imposed upon them from a very young and suggestible age

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  12. It's no coincidence that these hell fearing rule bound religions came about during times of dictatorship when it suited those in power to bend the will of the fickle masses to comply to a certain way of thinking. Back then this simple reward and punishment system was effective in unifying society, Elements of religion can be so positive when teaching the values of being a good person, but the whole 'you will burn in hell if you don't believe what I believe' is just ridiculous!' And I question the morals of these self proclaimed enlightened people who casually condemn their fellow human beings to eternal pain. The logic is twisted and the implications are dangerous. How many human parents have murdered there own children for bringing religious dishonour to the family? It seems more and more these days, in an age where freedom of thought and civilised progress go hand in hand. War is born from religion, millions have died because of this.

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