Stephen Hawking, born on 8 January 1942, at Oxford in an academic family, had an early aptitude and inclination towards science. He studied physics and chemistry at the university in Oxford, though he seems not to have excelled as a student, instead spending much of his time at the college boat club! He went to Cambridge for his PhD hoping to study cosmology with Fred Hoyle, but instead was assigned to Dennis Sciama who proved to be an important inﬂuence on him. It was at this time that Hawking was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease – a degenerative motor neuronal disorder. Though he was given only a couple of years to live at age 22 or so, his disease progressed slower than predicted. Hawking overcame an initial depression to plunge fully into his research soon making a mark for himself, winning the prestigious Adams Prize in 1966, for his thesis work on singularities in Einstein’s theory of gravity. He remained at Cambridge as a Fellow of Caius and Gonville College for much of his research career, except for a stint as the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor at Caltech, USA, from 1970 to 1975. He was elected at age 32 as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and in 1979 appointed to the celebrated Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics (held by Newton, Babbage, Dirac and others) at Cambridge. He held this post till his retirement in 2009.
Volume 27 | Issue 6