Stephen Hawking: A Visionary Physicist, An Idol And An Inspiration

 Stephen Hawking

Cosmic Genius
“The man who reshaped cosmology”
“He was more than just about his science publications”
“His dying muscles failed to slow down an extraordinary brain”

Stephen William Hawking (CH CBE FRS FRSA) born on 8 January 1942 (exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo), Oxford, England, passed away yesterday, 15 March 2018, at the age of 76. He was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.
In 1963, Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, shortly after his 21st birthday. In spite of being wheelchair-bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication. Stephen continues to combine family life (he has three children and three grandchildren) with his research into theoretical physics, in addition to an extensive programme of travel and public lectures.

“His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we and the world are exploring. May you keep flying like a superman in microgravity, as you said to Astronauts on the space station in 2014”

Hawking’s work for science:

He has worked on the basic laws that govern the universe. With Roger Penrose, he showed that Einstein's general theory of relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes (1970). These results indicated that it was necessary to unify general relativity with quantum theory, the other great scientific development of the first half of the 20th century.

  • Hawking-Berkenstein Radiation: In 1974, Stephen Hawking and Jacob Berkenstein showed that black holes produce and emit sub-atomic particles. Their discovery allowed for the possibility that black holes lose energy and ultimately die. 
  • Open Universe: In 1981. Hawking presented his findings at a conference in the Vatican City postulating the boundless universe theory. This was at a time when the prevailing understanding was that the universe, though it is expanding, is finite. 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 the singularity, where space-time curve infinitely. Penrose had shown that the same happens in black hole formation. He and Hawking applied the same concept to the universe. 
  •  The Theory of Everything: An abiding endeavour of Hawking’s was to bring together general relativity and quantum theory that describes how sub-atomic particles behave to come up with a grand theory that would “provide a complete understanding of the universe.” 
  •  Getting the world interested in the universe: Hawking was a science populariser par excellence. His signature robotic voice is recognised all over the world, making him a beloved cultural icon, with appearances in popular TV shows as well. He was also the author of seven popular science books including the bestselling, A Brief History of Time.

Beyond Science:

  • Great Author: Apart from regarded as most brilliant theoretical physicist since Albert Einstein, he has written best-selling books explaining complex theories on physics and human creation with simplicity and humour. Few of them are:
1.      A Brief History Of Time (1998)
2.      The Grand Design (2010)
3.      The Universe In The Nutshell (2001)
4.      A Briefer History Of Time (2005)
5.      My Brief History (2013)
For the complete list, visit books by Stephen Hawking 

  • In Pop Culture: He was a guest star in many TV shows and talk shows. Some of his famous appearances are:
1.     He appeared in The Big Bang Theory and even sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of the main protagonist, Sheldon (Jim Parsons). Excluding this, he made another six appearances.
2.   He appeared in four episodes of The Simpson and was described as “the best thing on the American Television.”
3.    He was also a Star Trek fan and appeared in season six finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, playing poker as a hologram with Lt. Commander Data and holograms of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.
4.    Pink Floyd, the British band sampled Hawking’s word for the track ‘Keep Talking’ in his 1996 Album, Division Bell.

What he achieved in his lifetime, I doubt anyone else can achieve. He defied death at the age of 21, i.e when he was diagnosed with ALS. He was the great author and a great writer as well. He published seven books including the bestselling, A Brief History of Time. He appeared in different TV shows and even went to space. Additionally, he hosted his own TV series ‘Curiosity’, which inspired uncountable students; obviously, I am one of them. Therefore, he was a scientist, a great author, a TV host, and an astronaut and defied death

No doubt, he was and still is an idol of millions of students and will forever be.