Stephen Hawking was an important British theoretical physicist who, during a great part of his life suffered from a neuronal motor impairment that made him incapable of moving and limited his ability to move. He was born on the 8th of January 1942 in Oxford, England, exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo, which had been a famous astronomer and scientist that invented the telescope. The two of them were marvelled by the heavenly bodies.
Hawking grew up in a Victorian house at Highgate, in London. Before his ten years, he moved with his family to the North of London, due to work reasons of his father. There, Hawking went to two different schools. His second school was Saint Albans, where, in spite of his important achievements at the adult age, he never managed to arrive at the half of the class.
From a young age, he had always been very curious. Due to his interest in how objects worked, many times he disassembled them to see how they worked, but he wasn’t so good at the moment of putting them together. By decision of his father, Hawing studied at Oxford University, where, at that epoch, the predominant attitude in this university was very anti-work. It was supposed that you had to be brilliant with any type of effort or accept your limitations and resign yourself to a minimum grade. Later on, thanks to his excellent at the final exam, he was able to access the university of Cambridge.
When Hawking turned 20, he started to show symptoms that something wasn’t going well. He spent various weeks at St. Bartholomew hospital, where they did him a great number of tests. Even if he didn’t know what happened him, he knew it wasn’t good, and from the conversations of the doctors deduced that it would only go worse. Some doctors considered him a lost cause and they avoided him. Later on, he discovered he suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This disease is a type of neuronal motor disease through which the nerve cells from the brain and the spinal cord atrophy and then cicatrise or harden. The persons that suffer from this disease gradually lose the capacity to control their movements, talk, eat, and, finally, breathe.
As the disease rapidly progressed, he got very depressed. After some time, as the progression reduced, he once again recovered the passion for his work and started to appreciate all he had. He met a woman named Jane and had three children. As a dad, he instilled in his children, from a young age, the importance of asking questions.
At the beginning of the 80s, his health deteriorated. He had prolonged asphyxiation attacks because his larynx was debilitated and let food pass to the lungs. In 1985 he contracted a pneumonia, and after the transfer from one hospital to another in an air ambulance, they had to make him a tracheotomy, for which he was left without the capacity to talk. An expert that heard about his problem provided him with a machine in which he could select words from a menu, and a synthetic voice reproduced them. Since that moment, his program enormously developed.
Unfortunately, Stephen Hawking died the 14 March 2018, at the age of 76, in his house in Cambridge.
Apart from being a very renowned theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking also wrote a great number of books. Among them, the most famous and sold has been the book “Brief history of time”, which reached 25 million sales.
Hawking was the author of a great part of modern astronomy and worked all his life on the laws that govern our universe. He also provoked large progress in our understanding of black holes. For example, he discovered that these bodies emit radiation that, over a period of trillions of years, it makes them evaporate or disappear. This is what we nowadays know as Hawking radiation.