ObitTree Blog

Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

Posted by ObitTree

Stephen Hawking
January 8, 1942 – March 14, 2018


Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most renowned scientists has passed away at the age of 76 according to multiple reports. Hawking was best known for his book “A Brief History Of Time”.

Hawking was one of the most recognizable faces in the science community. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The disease would paralyze him and force him to speak through synthetic voice machine. Despite his illness, Hawking continued to make great strides in scientific research, specifically theoretical physics.

Hawking was born in Oxford, England to scholars who both attended the University of Oxford. As a student, Hawking described himself as an average student noting that he had messy handwriting and struggled with reading early on. During his early years, he had a fascination with machines and enjoyed learning about the intricacies of their parts and how everything worked together. During high school, he built a computer from parts he took from clocks and an old telephone switchboard.

Upon completing high school, Hawking enrolled in his parents’ alma mater, the University of Oxford. Mathematics had always been something he enjoyed, despite his father persisting that he should study medicine. Hawking would eventually settle on physics and chemistry. As a student, Hawking was a scholar and found his assignments to be too easy. He estimated that at most, he spent an hour a day on school work. Despite his minimal effort, Hawking excelled achieving top marks and admission into graduate school at the University of Cambridge.

During his final year at Oxford, Hawking would begin to show early signs of ALS. After his family began to notice his slurring words and clumsiness, they consulted several doctors. He was given the diagnosis in 1963 and told he had two years to live.

Despite his health issues, Hawking continued his studies at Cambridge pursuing a doctorate in cosmology and general relativity. Hawking was determined to complete his studies before the disease worsened. In 1966, he received his doctorate in cosmology, three years after his initial diagnosis.

By the early 1970’s, Hawking was bound to a wheelchair in order to get around. Despite this, he continued to make headway with his research. In 1974, he proved that black holes emit radiation and thus are not entirely black. The concept has since been referred to as “Hawking Radiation”.

After his first major discovery, Hawking received job offers from several prestigious employers. Hawking would become one of the youngest scientists to join the Royal Society, and eventually began teaching at the California Institute of Technology. After his time at Cal Tech, Hawking would return to be a professor at Cambridge.

By this time, his disease had worsened and Hawking was forced to speak through a synthesized voice machine. Even though his condition made it harder to work, Hawking continued to press forward. In 1988, he released his best seller, “A Brief History Of Time”. The popular book would bring science to the mainstream for the general public and inspire a generation of future scientists. Hawking would go on to write several other books including a series of children’s books he would co-write with his daughter.

Hawking’s work was not all science and research. He would go on to become a figure in pop culture and appeared on several television programs including “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory”. In 2014, his life was projected onto the big screen with the release of the Oscar-nominated film, “The Theory of Everything”.

Hawking was married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was Jane Wilde, whom he met during his time at Cambridge. Together the couple would have three children: Robert, Lucy and Timothy. Hawking and Wilde separated in 1990 and finally divorced in 1995. Shortly after his divorce, Hawking would marry one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. The couple divorced as well in 2006.

Hawking is survived by his two ex-wives, three children and three grandchildren.

Following the news of his death, many celebrities and members of the scientific community expressed their condolences on social media.

This entry was posted in Community Building on March 14th, 2018 by ObitTree .

About ObitTree is the obituary engine of the National Obituary Registry and a hub for all things death care.

View all posts by ObitTree

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *