Stephen Hawking is one of the most influential and renowned theoretical physcists on this side of the 20th-21st century. But let’s take a look at these facts which you might not know about him through this gallery:
To understand what a black hole is, it occurs when massive enough stars “die” or collapse. Stars have so much mass that their gravity is quite strong. This happens when the stars continue to burn its nuclear fuel, which helps it to bring the energy outward and thus defy gravity. When a big enough star “dies,” it’s the gravity’s turn to become the stronger force. This leads the star to collapse on itself, and this incident is referred to as the black hole by scientists.
Stephen Hawking proposed that the black holes are not really black but instead they radiate energy. However, he said that the radiation did not contain any information, which meant that the information which originally fell into black hole vanishes. The problem was that this idea was not allowed in the rules of quantum mechanics. American theoretical physicist John Preskill disagreed with Hawking so in 1997 he made a scientific wager with him by saying that the information was not lost. Hawking admitted in 2004 that he was wrong all along about the black hole during a conference in Dublin. His results suggested that black holes may have more than one topology at the same time, which means that a true event horizon doesn’t form and thus the information is not lost.
Stephen Hawking is regarded as a brilliant scientist, that’s why it’s quite shocking that he received so-so grades during his grade school days. He was bit of a slacker, in fact. Nonetheless, he displayed an interest in how things work. Despite his average to poor grades, his teachers and peers predicted that a future “Einstein” was in the offing. Luckily, he passed the scholarship exam at Oxford University, getting almost a perfect grade on his physics exam.
This isn’t so surprising. Hawking himself revealed at a lecture in 2006 that the late Pope John Paul II told him not to study the beginning of the universe. The Pontiff stressed that the origins came from God and should not be explored and studied.
Stephen Hawking is the 17th professor of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University. The first was was Isaac Barrow from 1663 to 1669. Isaac Newton was the second professor from 1669 to 1702.
We’ve mentioned about his infamous bet on the black hole, although that wasn’t Hawking’s first scientific wager. He had also made a similar bet with fellow physician Kip Thorne in 1975. Thorne won the black hole bet and as Hawking had promised, he bought a subscription of the adult magazine Penthouse for him.
Before Hawking fell to the illness that disabled him physically, he became an active member of the Oxford rowing team as a coxswain — a position which does not do the rowing, but rather is in charge of the boat’s steering and navigation. This type of position seemed to suit him considering that he didn’t have the athletic build. It also helped him to deal with his loneliness and isolation while at Oxford. Because rowing is an important and competitive sport at the university, Hawking’s position on the rowing team made him popular. He was so absorbed in the sport to the point that it distracted him from his studies.
Barack Obama, the US president, awarded Hawking with a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Stephen Hawking makes a cameo appearance at the end of The Big Bang Theory‘s 21st episode, “The Hawking Excitation.”
Stephen Hawking has had a nice TV career, too. Aside from The Big Bang Theory, Hawking has also starred in other TV shows like The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Futurama, and on British programs apart from being a part of several documentaries.
As he was about to graduate, Hawking gradually began to show obvious signs of tripping and clumsiness, which concerned his family. They insisted he see a doctor. But before doing that, he went to a New Year’s party where he met Jane Wilde, his future wife. A week after, Hawking turned 21, and later on he went on to see a specialist. The doctor eventually confirmed that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. And the doctor gave Hawking the grave prediction that he only had a few years to live.
Hawking wondered why he had to go through this, until he saw a patient fighting against leukemia and decided to think that someone was worse than himself. Realizing that, he grew more optimistic and dated Jane, to whom he became engaged. He has cited that the engagement gave him the reason “to live for” (they eventually married).
Stephen Hawking loved math. Obviously, he excelled in it and wanted to take a mathematics course in college. His father, though, had other plans for him; he hoped that his son would study medicine instead. But for all his passion towards science, he disliked biology saying that it was “too inexact, too descriptive.” He would have rather preferred to more exact and precise concepts.
He chose cosmology at Oxford despite seeing it as a “hardly recognised as a legitimate field” as the university didn’t have mathematics as a major. Hawking was faced with two alternative options: particle physics or cosmology. He chose the latter, as he saw particle physics as similar to biology.
At one time Stephen Hawking openly rooted for human colonization in other planets so he was set on experiencing his next goal: to go into space. He even quipped that maybe Richard Branson would help him. The Virgin mogul did make Hawking’s dreams (and joke) into reality. In 2007 Branson covered all the expenses in order for Hawking to go on a flight. This made Hawking the first-ever quadriplegic to float in zero gravity.
Even though Stephen Hawking is English, his speech synthesizer renders an American accent. His speech machine, DECtalk DTC01 (from the American manufacturer Digital Equipment Corporation) is no longer in production. Asked why Hawking has kept the old and bulky machine for many years, he has mentioned that: “I keep it because I have not heard a voice I like better and because I have identified with it.