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Happy birthday to Professor Stephen Hawking

Happy birthday to Professor Stephen Hawking

January 08, 2024

Today, we commemorate the birth of one of the greatest minds of our time – Professor Stephen Hawking. Born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England, Hawking's life was a testament to the triumph of spirit over adversity and the boundless potential of human intellect.

However, Hawking did not start his academic career in the way that many might expect. Hawking’s early education took place at Byron House School and St Albans High School, but he did not initially find success in the classroom. He later attended St Albans School, and it was here that he began to display an aptitude for the sciences.

As he progressed to higher education, Hawking studied physics and chemistry at University College, Oxford. Despite finding the work ‘ridiculously easy’, Hawking was not the most studious – though he eventually graduated with a first-class degree after persuading the examiners. This allowed him to progress to postgraduate studies in Cosmology at Cambridge.

It was during his time at Cambridge that Hawking was diagnosed with ALS. Coming to terms with this life-altering disease, and being told by doctors that he only had two years to live, Hawking became dissuaded from his studies. It took some time, and the encouragement of his supervisor Dennis William Sciama for him to return to his work. In March 1966, Hawking graduated with a PhD in applied mathematics and theoretical physics, specialising in general relativity and cosmology.

With the assistance of technologies that helped him to live with ALS, Professor Hawking went on to lead a legendary career as a theoretical physicist. This included his groundbreaking work in cosmology and black holes. His contributions include the Hawking radiation theory, proposing that black holes emit radiation and gradually lose mass. Hawking also explored the nature of the universe, addressing topics like the Big Bang and the nature of time. He authored the bestselling book A Brief History of Time, which made complex scientific concepts accessible to a wide audience. Hawking's work significantly advanced humanity’s understanding of the cosmos, earning him global recognition as one of the greatest physicists of his time.

Professor Hawking died peacefully at the age of 76, at his home in Cambridge, leaving behind a legacy of curiosity and scientific exploration.

If you are interested in Professor Stephen Hawking’s life and work, you might like our Time Travellers Invitation print. In 2009, Hawking hosted a unique experiment – a party for time travellers. Invitations were sent out after the event occurred, ensuring only time travellers could attend. This experiment inspired Kite founder Peter Dean, who partnered with Professor Hawking to produce the Time Travellers Invitation print. 10% of the purchase price of every print sold goes to the Stephen Hawking Foundation.

 

Image credit: NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.




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