Photo courtesy of space.com.
In 2007, Hawking experienced zero gravity flight, adding to his list of accomplishments.
Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14 at the age of 76. Hawking leaves behind a lifetime of achievement in theoretical physics including some of the greatest advances in black hole research that the scientific community has yet seen.
While studying at Cambridge at the age of 21, Hawking was diagnosed with ALS.
Facing this crippling disease, Hawking experienced severe depression over time. However, he soon found a new sense of purpose with his mind untouched by the ailment.
“I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit,” said Hawking once in an interview.
Possibly his greatest scientific marvel came in 1973 while he was researching black holes. He discovered through quantum physics that black holes were actually centers of great energy and that they could explode and eventually disappear from sight. He published his findings in his 1988 book, “A Brief History of Time,” which would go on to sell over 10 million copies.
“He was the greatest mind of the last 50 years,” said Dr. Chuck Crowder, physics professor. “The courage with which he has faced life — I have been very impressed. It shows what can be accomplished with the mind.”
According to doctors, Hawking was expected to die by age 23. Miraculously, Hawking had a slow developing form of ALS, and he adapted to life with the disease. Eventually, Hawking was confined to a wheelchair and would lose his voice due to a bout of pneumonia, but his brilliant mind remained unaffected.
Some might say the most recognizable thing about Hawking, outside of his scientific discoveries, was his voice. He was one of the first recipients of computerized voice recognition software that could be used with the touch of a button. The computer was mounted to his chair and allowed him to regain his voice, this time with an American accent.
In 2014, “The Theory of Everything,” a film about his life and relationship with his wife, received an Oscar for Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Hawking.
This would not be the first time that Hawking or his likeness would appear in pop culture, with his appearance in hit shows like “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory.” It could be said that Hawking was truly a celebrity scientist.
Hawking leaves this world for the cosmos with a multitude of achievements. Along with being the leading expert on black hole research, he holds the record for being the longest surviving person with ALS and acts as an inspiration for those with a disability, showing that they can achieve just as much, or possibly more, as people without. Hawking spent his entire life defying the odds, and even when speaking of death, he once said, “When you are faced with the possibility of an early death, it makes you realize that life is worth living and that there are a lot of things you want to do.”