Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University Physicist and best selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, bringing important considerations about the nature of gravity and the origin of universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity died early on 14th March, 2018 at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.
His illness defined British Physicist Stephen Hawking as much as his genius. As a student in 1963, he learned that he was diagnosed with a degenerative motor-neuron disease called Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (AML); when he was just 22 years old and was given few years to live. However, he beat the prognosis for another 54 years after that, dying at the age of 76.
What is ALS?
Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis – is one of the four types of rare degenerative motor-neuron disease.
The neuron in the brain and spinal cord that control motor function starts degenerating. With the neurons gone, brain cells cannot communicate with the muscles which stop functioning. It is a progressive disease that slowly affects all the motor functions, including eating and breathing, finally leading to the death of the patient.
A Great Physicist
Hawking went on to become his generation’s leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes, and about the bottomless gravitational pits – so deep and dense that not even light can escape them. His works led to a turning point in Physics. In the year of 1973, he applied the quantum theory to the black holes.
In a long and daunting calculation, Hawking discovered to his befuddlement that black holes, – were not black at all. In fact he, found, they would eventually fizzle, leaking radition and particles, and finally explode and disappear over the eons.
Hawking was a man who pushed the limits. He travelled the globe to scientific meetings, visiting every continent, including Anctartica; wrote best selling books about his work; married twice; fathered three children; and was not above appearing on the Simpsons, Star Trek : The Next Generation or The Big Bang Theory.
Hawking’s words on death, “ When you are faced with the possibility of an early death, it makes you realize that life is worth living and that there are a lot of things you want to do.”
Hawking’s work for Science
- Hawking- Bekenstein Radiation
In 1974, Stephen Hawking and Jacob Bekenstein showed that black holes produce and emit sub-atomic particles. Their discovery allowed for the possibility that black holes loose energy and ultimately die. Black holes are regions in gravitational fields where no particle can escape gravity.
- Open Universe
In 1981, Hawking represented his postulates about the boundless universe theory. He worked with Jim Hartle to combine general relativity with quantum mechanics to prove that the universe has no boundaries.
- Space-time Singularity
Hawking and Roger Penrose, mathematically proved the existence of singularity, where space-time curve infinitely. Penrose has shown this is what happens in the black holes formation. He and Hawking applied the concept to the universe. Singularity is region of infinite density in black holes.
- The theory of everything
Hawking bring together the general relativity and quantum theory, which describes how sub-atomic particles behave to come up with agrand theory that would, as he put it, “provide a complete understanding of the universe.”
- Getting the world interested in Universe
Hawking was a science populariser par excellence. His signature ribotic voice was recognized the world over, making him a beloved cultural icon, with the appearances in popular TV shows.
Best Sellers by Hawking
- A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME (1988)
In this book, Hawking navigates the Big Bang Theory, black holes, spiral galaxies and string theory to explain the origin, structure, development and the eventual fate of the universe.
- THE GRAND DESIGN (2010)
In this 2010 book, co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says evolution is a lot about chance in the universe where a slight change in constants that control nuclear synthesis could produce a world with no carbon and oxygen.
- THE UNIVERSE IN A NUTSHELL (2001)
In this collection of 13 essays and an extended interview, Hawking expands on how black holes create baby universe, imaginary time and the search for a unified theory for everything.
- A BRIEFER HISTORY OF TIME (2005)
This books makes the earlier classic even more accessible by both clarifying and expanding on the nature of space and time, the role of God in creation, black holes, string theory, the history and future of the universe and the search for a unified theory.
- MY BRIEF HISTORY (2013)
This book is a witty and candid account of Hawking’s journey from his post war London boyhood to his celebrity. Illustrated with photographs, it follows the life of the inquisitive student named ‘Einstein’ at St. Albans School near London.