Popular scientist Stephen Hawking, who explained the complex workings of the universe to the masses in his books as he continued to search for the illusive “theory of everything,” died early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge. Many people may know him but some may not. So, here is a brief summary of the life of the legendary physicist.
Who Was Stephen Hawking?
He was a British scientist, professor and author who performed groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology, and whose books helped to make science accessible to everyone. At age 21, while studying cosmology at the University of Cambridge, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
How he became known
In 1988 Hawking catapulted to international prominence with the publication of A Brief History of Time. The short, informative book became an account of cosmology for the masses and offered an overview of space and time, the existence of God and the future. The work was an instant success, spending more than four years atop the London Sunday Times’ best-seller list
Brief History of Time also wasn’t as easy to understand as some had hoped. So in 2001, Hawking followed up his book with The Universe in a Nutshell, which offered a more illustrated guide to cosmology’s big theories.
A Brief History of Time also wasn’t as easy to understand as some had hoped. So in 2001, Hawking followed up his book with The Universe in a Nutshell, which offered a more illustrated guide to cosmology’s big theories. In 2005, Hawking authored the even more accessible A Briefer History of Time, which further simplified the original work’s core concepts and touched upon the newest developments in the field like string theory. In September 2010, Hawking spoke against the idea that God could have created the universe in his book The Grand Design.
The Disease he had
At the age of 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig‘s disease). In a very simple sense, the nerves that controlled his muscles were shutting down. At the time, doctors gave him two and a half years to live.
Hawking first began to notice problems with his physical health while he was at Oxford—on occasion he would trip and fall, or slur his speech—he didn’t look into the problem until 1963, during his first year at Cambridge.
On March 14, 2018, Hawking finally succumbed to the disease that was supposed to have killed him more than 50 years earlier. A family spokesman confirmed that the iconic scientist died at his home in Cambridge, England.