The Man Who Knew Everything: Some lesser-known facts about Stephen Hawking
Academic icon and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking left his earthly abode for the stars on March 14, 2018. The scientist is world renowned for his significant contributions to Cosmology, the study of the origin and development of Universe. Not only did this genius studied and brought about new theories in the fields of Cosmology, which eventually changed the world, he is also well known to make complex physical concepts accessible to the wider community with his best selling book ‘A Brief History of Time‘. The book has, since its publication in 1988, set a Guinness World Record by staying in the Sunday Times bestseller list for four and a half years. The scientist often joked about his book that it was the ‘least-read most purchased book in history’. To make things more lucid for the masses, he later published another version of the book in 2005, which is called ‘A Briefer History Of Time‘.
Stephen Hawking was such a popular Cultural Icon, that he often made appearances in popular TV shows like Star Trek, The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver displaying his cool wit and sense of humour. Also, actor Eddie Redmayne portrayed Hawking in the Oscar Winning Biographical Movie, The Theory Of Everything.
In spite all these known facts, there are many other interesting facts about this profoundly inspirational man which you might not know about. an interesting fact is that he was born on January 8, 1942, which incidentally was the 300th Anniversary of Galileo’s death. Also, he served as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009. This very post was previously served by the greats like Isaac Newton and Charles Babbage. In this article, we would talk about some lesser known interesting facts about Hawking.
Mediocre Grades In School: Hawkings slacked in his school studies and received very mediocre grades. But from an early age, he was more into concepts of how stuff worked. His teachers and his peers, however, recognized that they had a future genius amongst them and thus he was nicknamed ‘Einstein’. His father wanted him to go to Oxford University, but due to lack of money and mediocre grades, was afraid he would not be able to fulfill that. However, Hawking aced the scholarship exam and rest is history. [Source: Internet]
Aversion to Biology: Hawking had a liking for Mathematics from an early age and wanted to pursue a major in it. His father, however, wanted him to study medicine. But he had an aversion to the Biological Sciences. For him, the subject was “Too inexact, too descriptive”. Since Oxford University did not offer Mathematics as a major, he took up Physics and in that too chose Cosmology over Particle Physics. For him, devoting his mind to more precise and well-defined concepts was essential. [Source: Internet]
He Was on the Oxford Rowing Team: He faced isolation and unhappiness during his first year at Oxford and being a part of the prestigious Oxford Rowing Team seems to have taken him out of his doldrums. Rowing was considered sacred and very competitive at Oxford. Even though he never had an athletic build, he was not yet diagnosed with the physically disabling disease and thus his position was as a Coxswains. [Source: Internet]
He was a Wild Wheelchair Driver: After he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), he resorted to using crutches. However, when he had to be transitioned to a wheelchair, he was reportedly a very wild driver. There was an incident where he crushed his wheelchair and broke his hip. Post that, he also joked about being a ‘Bad Driver’. [Source: Internet]
Lost Bets on Scientific Theories: Hawking made several key theoretical contributions to science. But he also lost several bets on conceptions of Black Holes and other scientific concepts. [Source: Internet]
Believed in the possibility of Aliens: During NASA’s 50th Anniversary, he was invited to speak and there he talked about the possibility of alien life in the greater universe. He mentioned that given the vastness of the Universe, it is very much possible, that there could be primitive and intelligent alien life. To quote him, “Primitive Life is very common, and Intelligent life is very rare”. [Source: Internet]
He was a Children’s Book Author: Apart from being an author to many books for adults, Hawking teamed up with his daughter Lucy, to write several books for children. All of these books focus on a young boy named George who learns about the Universe by traveling it. There is even a mention of Hunger Games in one of these books. [Source: Internet]
To sum up, the life and achievements of Stephen Hawking in the space of an article is simply a herculean task to ask for. He survived in the face of extreme odds. He conquered a life-disabling condition, where he was not expected to survive past the age of 25. He is the greatest example of how to rise above all odds with sheer excellence. Let us all pray that may his soul be guided by the stars and wander forever in the Cosmos, in which he dwelled so much in.