Monday, May 22, 2017

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is a Theoretical Physicist known for his knowledge of the universe. Limited to life in a wheelchair due to ALS, he can only speak using a computer, he has nevertheless accomplished a lot in his life.

  • In his early years, he was a poor student and didn't learn to read until later than most of his peers, which he blames on poor teaching methods.
  • At the age of 16, he and a friend built a computer using parts of a clock, a telephone switchboard, and assorted junk.
  • His father wanted him to study medicine, but Stephen was more interested in Physics and Cosmology (the study of the universe).
  • He attended the University of Oxford in England, starting young at the age of 17. He did his graduate work at Cambridge University, also in England.
  • He was physically awkward, but because he was small, he was a coxswain (team captain/director) for men rowing Crew at Oxford. He was known to be very reckless with the boats. 

                                                      Oxford University (Harry Potter, anyone??)
                                                               Cambridge University
  • During his graduate studies, he was diagnosed with ALS: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It affected his walking and his speech, and he was given 2 years to live.
  • He earned his PhD in 1966, age 24. 
  • In 1985, he came down with pneumonia, which meant he had to have a tracheotomy in order to breathe. This ended his ability to speak.
  • Currently, he uses his cheek muscles to speak using a computer that has a word predictor. It has a vocabulary of 2500 to 3000 words-in an American accent.
  • There are people working on finding a way for him to move his wheelchair using his chin, which is a problem because he can't move his neck.
  • He occasionally has breathing trouble as well.
 What is ALS? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: damage to the brain and spinal cord that causes muscles to stop working.

You can learn more about ALS here:

  • He has three children: Lucy, Timothy, and Robert. He has written 7 books and co-authored 5. He's also written four children's books with his daughter, Lucy.
  • Mr. Hawking's net worth is $20 million.
  • He reportedly turned down a knighthood offered him by the Queen of England.
  • He has appeared on TV: Conan O'Brian, The Simpsons, Star Trek, and the Big Bang Theory (an episode in which Sheldon meets Hawking, whom he considers to be his intellectual equal).


Stephen Hawkings is Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretic Cosmology at the University of Cambridge in England..

In 2007, he was able to experience weightlessness in a spacecraft simulator.


How does his wheelchair work?


A film was made about his life called "The Theory of Everything," which illustrates his story as well.

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