In the early hours of Wednesday morning, March 14, Stephen Hawking gave up the ghost, in his home in Cambridge. The world renowned physicist lived to be 76, despite given only a few years to live at the age of 22, as he was diagnosed with a rare motor neuron disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis(ALS), which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS prohibited Hawking’s physical movement, confining him to a wheelchair, and limited communication, forcing him to use a speech synthesizer.
ALS is typically diagnosed to those between the ages of 40 and 70, and are then given a few short years to live, with no cure. Stephen miraculously lived for decades with the illness. A climbing legend throughout his life, he began his mortal journey in 1942, in Oxford UK. He first studied in Oxford, then eventually moved to Cambridge fo his postgraduate, studying cosmology. While a teenager, he enjoyed horseback riding, and rowing. A few years later, as he prepared to marry his first wife, Jane, the doctors told him he did not have long to live, due to ALS. Despite the bad news, and struggles for the couple, they were married for 26 years, having 3 children. Their marriage, sadly, ended in divorce, but Hawking eventually found his second wife, Elaine Mason, in 1995. They were married for about ten years, but tragically, as well, they ended up divorcing.
His real climb to fame began in 1988, when he published ‘A Brief History of Time,’ which sold over ten million copies. He wrote it with a target audience of those without prior knowledge of scientific theories. He writes in non-technical terms of the structure, laws, and fate of the universe.
In the 1990s he was offered knighthood, but turned it down because of disagreements over the government’s science funding. Though winning many awards in science and mathematics, a crowning moment for him was when the President of the United States awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2009. He went on in 2014 to meet Queen Elizabeth. During that same year, his life story made it to the big screen, entitled, The Theory of Everything.
It was named after a physics theory, referred to as ‘The Theory of Everything.’ It’s an end-all, final, all-encompassing theory that explains how all physical aspects of the universe are connected. Finding the theory of everything has been one of the ultimate goals and problems for physicists.
Stephen says, in regards to this theory, “This complete set of laws can give us the answers to questions like how did the universe begin, where is it going and will it have an end? If so, how will it end? If we find the answers to these questions, we really shall know the mind of God.”
Finally, he wrote how, even though he had ASL for the large majority of his adult life, it didn’t keep him from having an ‘attractive’ family, and becoming successful in his work.
“It shows, that one need not lose hope….” – Stephen Hawking