Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA 8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018
A world renowned physicist who overcame the physical incapacities of genetic roulette with a life defined by a voyage that expanded our understanding of the universe around us.
Hawking was born in 1942 in Oxford to frank and Isobel Hawking, who had both studied at Oxford. He had two younger sisters and an adopted brother. His family were often viewed as eccentric and highly intelligent. Stories abound of family meals carried out in silence as they each read books, their untidy house and a London taxi cab for a family car.
It should come as no surprise that the Hawking family considered education to be of great importance and Hawking’s father was keen for him to attend the prodigious Westminster School. The family could not afford to send him there without a scholarship but unfortunately Stephen was ill on the day of the examination and so remained at his school in St. Albans. This could well have turned out to be of major significance in his life as he remained with a close group of friends who constructed a computer together with their Maths teacher.
Hawking developed a reputation for excellence in the sciences and Maths at school but his father was keen for him to study medicine rather than Maths and to attend Oxford. It was no possible to study Maths at Oxford at the time so he opted for Physics and Chemistry and gained a Scholarship place.
Hawking managed to gain the first he required to study his post graduate at Cambridge, despite his reputation, he was a lazy student, but by his own admission, he found the course to be not particularly challenging. His post graduate studies were initially more complicated. He found his Maths training insufficient for general relativity and cosmology. This was compounded by the diagnosis of motor neuron disease which left him unenthused with study and with an expectation that he may only live another two years. His tutor encouraged him to return to his studies and his condition deteriorated slower than first feared. He returned to his studies and wrote his thesis on the application of Roger Penrose’s theorem of a spacetime singularity in black holes to the entire universe. His ambition being to settle the debate between the theories on the beginning of the universe.