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Remembering Stephen Hawking

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Gregorio Mariscal, Staff Reporter

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Early life of Stephen Hawking

Stephen W. Hawking was born in Oxford, United Kingdom on January 8, 1942. Hawking’s mother, Isobel Walker, came from a family of doctors in Glasgow, Scotland. His father, Frank Hawking, was in the field of science as a research biologist. Stephen Hawking attended University College in Oxford. For him, grades came easy. Hawking said he would get by working an hour a day on his studies. Rarely would he need to consult a book or notes. Hawking said the only thing that interested him was “the big question: Where did the universe come from?” After graduation, he planned to start researching the universe. However, shortly before he began his research, he began to feel weak and would occasionally feel dizzy.

Battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Shortly after his 21st birthday, Hawking was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This disease affects the nervous system and weakens muscles and physical function. The doctors believed he would not live for more than two years. Before Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, he met Jane Wilde. In 1965, they were married and had three children. Hawking said he had “something to live for” and began researching the cosmos.

Hawking was met with many obstacles. The illness took his ability to write equations and he soon lost the ability to speak. However, Walter Woltosz created a program called the Equalizer which would give Hawking his signature voice. The program allowed Hawking to put together words and letters and create sentences using his fingers to click a switch. And when he couldn’t use his fingers the program used an infrared beam activated by twitching his cheek or eye. His only complaint, he said jokingly, was that it gave him an American accent.

Stephen Hawking Dies at age 76

Hawking died on March 14, 2018 at his home in Cambridge, England. Hawking was 76 years old. The funeral was held at Great St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge on March 31. Eddie Redmayne, who played Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”, attended the funeral, as well as Queen guitarist Brian May, and cosmologist Martin Rees. The church bell rang 76 times, one for each year Hawking lived. Locals lined the streets to watch the funeral take place. Hawking’s ashes were buried near the graves of Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. In a statement to PEOPLE magazine, Eddie Redmayne said, “We have truly lost a beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist, and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”

Contributions to Science

Out of all of Stephen Hawking’s achievements, his most famous contribution is to our understanding of black holes. In 1974, Hawking proposed that black holes emit radiation, named Hawking radiation, from the event horizon. The theory states that subatomic particle pairs emitted from the event horizon will create negative energy that will flow into the black hole and reduce the mass, thus ending the life cycle of the black hole.

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Remembering Stephen Hawking