Stephen Hawking went from an average school boy to a scientific genius. Many of his teachers and classmates knew he had it in him all along, however. Hawking beat the diagnosis of his many doctors, dooming him to death in his early 20s. Known for his theories on black holes, Hawking certainly made his mark on the academic world.
His Grades Were Pretty Bad in School
Steven Hawking managed to get it together when it was time to get into college. Before this, however, his grades were nothing to brag about. At the age of nine, his grades were the worst of his entire class. He pulled them up, eventually, to that of the average student. His awards came later in life. His school age years brought no recognition. He got into Oxford by acing his scholarship entrance exam. His genius showed through, however, as he enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked, and built a computer as a teenager. His teachers and classmates called him Einstein.
He Wasn’t a Fan of Biology
You might expect that all things scientific interested Hawking. Biology, however, was not in his realm of interest. Mathematics were his passion. His father requested that he become a doctor, which would have put him in many biology classes. He decided on Physics, since mathematics was not an option at Oxford at the time. The physics track had two options. He chose cosmology over particle physics, even though it was still new and barely recognizable as a field of study.
He Beat the Odds
Hawking took a fall at an ice skating rink when he was 21 years old. The fall led him to the doctor where they found an underlying reason for this and his recent uncoordinated physical symptoms. He was hospitalized during his Christmas break for further testing. He was soon diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This disease also goes by the name of Lou Gehrig’s disease. This disease compromises the integrity of the voluntary muscles. His prognosis consisted of a death sentence in a few short years.
He Got Engaged, Anyway
His health diagnosis was not the only thing that happened during that Christmas break. He also met his future wife, Jane Wilde, while he enjoyed a New Year’s party. Wilde was a friend of his sister who has said that she noticed his independence and sense of humor. Even with the negative information provided by doctors, Hawking decided to make the most of the time he has left. He gained some perspective on the situation after noticing a dying young boy afflicted with leukemia. He realized that others had it even worse than he did. He dated Jane and they became engaged fairly quickly. He had found something new to live for.
The Boundless Universe Theory
Hawking most well-known for his theory of Black Holes. He also played a part, however, in coming up with the Boundless Universe Theory. In 1983 he worked with Jim Hartle to find a way to explain their ideas that the universe has no boundaries. The resulting theory revolves around ideas of shape and nature of the universe. While they believed the universe to be contained, they also grappled with the idea that it has no boundaries. They compared the universe to the surface of the Earth. The surface of the Earth has no corners and you can go around it indefinitely. This is considered having no boundaries, as it does not “end” anywhere.
He Gave Athletics a Try
Oxford is known for more than its academics. They have a globally popular rowing team. The rowing team consists of large teams that row on the Thames River. This team was founded in 1829. Their annual competition against Cambridge University is simple called The Boat Race. Hawking was a part of the team during his early years at Oxford. He took on the role of coxswain. The coxswain controls the stroke rate of the rowers and the steering. This position requires a smaller physical build.
Admitted He was Wrong
Hawking made a bet with another scientist about some ideas on black holes. The bet ran the course of many years, while the scientists gathered information. The bet started in 1997, and ended in 2004. Hawking admitted defeat at that time, with a good attitude. John Preskill did not share the same thoughts on information lost in a black hole. His theory ended up being viable according to the laws of quantum physics.
He Wrote for Kids
Hawking shared his love of science in a children’s book. He worked with his daughter, Lucy Hawking, to write a book called “George’s Secret Key to the Universe.” The book is about a curious boy, named George that ventures out to find technological advantages. He discovers powerful computer at his neighbor’s house that creates portals to outer space.
He Considered Life on Other Planets
Hawking gave a lecture in 2008 that included some talk about aliens. This talk was a part of NASA’s 50th anniversary celebration. Like many scientists, he acknowledged the vast nature of the universe. He mentioned the possibility of both primitive and intelligent life. He added that alien life may not be based on DNA. He cautioned that diseases could be present in alien life that we are not resistant to.
Hawking Tried out Zero Gravity
After a lifetime spent in the scientific field, Hawking finally got to experience weightlessness at the age of 65. He was given the chance to float out of his binding wheelchair on a flight run by Zero Gravity Corp. This is achieved by ascending and descending quickly. This is done several times on each trip, achieving about 25 seconds of gravity-free time at once.
Hawking experienced no shortage of success during his lifetime. He held several academic positions and won rewards. Despite his illness he went on to marry and have children. Hawking fought hard to achieve his goals, even after contracting a disease that would slow many people down.