Defying all the odds
“One of the Boys”
Hawking’s undergraduate years were a fairly tumultuous time as he learned to balance his innate intelligence with the demands and distractions of university life.
Calling his workload “ridiculously easy,” Hawking was isolated and lonely until he decided to focus on his social life instead of hi schoolwork. Foremost, he joined the University College Boat Club as a coxswain where he established himself as an adventurous and free spirit with a contagious sense of humor.
Later in life, when he became wheelchair-bound, Hawking was known to run over the toes of people he didn’t like. In regards to a rumor that he said he regretted never running over Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s toes, Hawking stated in a biography, “[It’s] a malicious rumor. I’ll run over anyone who repeats it.”
Despite losing control over much of his body, Hawking was a bestselling author.
Perhaps what best helped skyrocket him to fame outside of academic circles was his publication of A Brief History of Time in 1988. The went on to sell over 10 million copies in 35+ languages, and it spent over five years on the London Sunday Times bestseller list.
However, Hawking is also a children’s author. In 2007, Stephen and his daughter Lucy collaborated on George’s Secret Key to the Universe. This was the first in a planned series about a boy who discovers his passion for technology, science, and space, with concepts like black holes and life itself broken down for young readers.
Aside from these, Hawking has over a dozen more original and co-authored published works.
Stephen Hawking once said, “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
Some of his biggest accomplishments are:
-Collaboration with Jim Hartle to theorize that the initial state of the universe was timeless and boundless.
-He was one of the first scientists to calculate the quantum fluctuations in the universe in support of the theory of cosmic inflation: the universe has been expanding ever since the Big Bang.
-Proved the existence of singularities (single points that contain infinite mass in an infinitely small space) along with Roger Penrose.
-Co-discovered the four laws of black hole mechanics with James Bardeen and Brandon Carter.
-Showed that black holes emit radiation (Hawking radiation) until they exhaust. It was previously believed that nothing could escape a black hole.
He later said, “Black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up—there’s a way out.”