Cosmologist Stephen Hawking dies at 76
15 March 2018
Renowned cosmologist, theoretical physicist and author Stephen Hawking died at his home in Cambridge, England early on March 14. He was 76 years old and is survived by his ex-wives Jane Wilde and Elaine Mason, three children and three grandchildren.
There is much to celebrate about Hawking’s life. He led a rich scientific career, playing a key role in deepening our understanding of gravitational physics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics and cosmology. He also wrote numerous books popularizing science, most notably his 1988 work A Brief History of Time, which remained on the bestseller list of the Sunday Times for 237 weeks.
His achievements are all the more remarkable considering that Hawking contracted motor neurone disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease) when he was 21 years old. The disease confined him to a wheel chair and eventually forced him to speak with a speech synthesizer. Despite this, he continued both his work and his life, surviving beyond his original two-year life expectancy for more than half a century. The struggles faced by Hawking and his first wife Jane Wilde as his disease developed were dramatized in the 2014 film, The Theory of Everything.
Hawking was born in 1942 in Oxford, England, where his parents moved to have a child away from the bombs being dropped on London in World War II. When he was 8, he moved to St. Albans where his father, Frank, became the head of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research. Through his father’s travels abroad and his mother, Isobel’s, friends, Hawking spent a significant amount of his youth with the poet Robert Graves (I, Claudius, 1934).
He began his…