English 1301
Feb. 20th, 2004

Mr. Stephen Hawking wrote: “For thousand of years, people have wondered
about the universe. Did it stretch out forever or was there a limit? And
where did it all come from? Did the universe have a beginning, a moment of
creation? Or had the universe existed forever?…All my life, I have been
fascinated by the big questions that face us, and have tried to find
scientific answers to them…Personally, I’m sure that the universe began
with a hot Big Bang…The expansion of the universe spreads everything out,
but gravity tries to pull it all back together again…”
In the full name is Stephen William Hawking, born Jan. 8, 1942, Oxford,
Oxfordshire, England, and grew up in London. He attended St. Albans School
and entered Oxford University in 1959. He studied mathematics and physics
at the University. Upon graduating (B.A. degree) in 1962, he moved to
Cambridge University to study theoretical astronomy and cosmology. It was
at this time he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (an incurable
degenerative neuromuscular disease), named for the American baseball player
who died from it in 1941. As the disease worsened, Hawking was confined to
a motorized wheelchair. In time, he was unable to write and barely able to
speak. However, he proceeded to work on his doctorate and in 1965 married a
fellow student, Jane Wilde. The marriage lasted until 1990. After receiving
his doctorate in 1966, he remained at Cambridge as a member of the
department of applied mathematics. He was appointed professor of
gravitational physics in 1977 and Lucasian professor of mathematics (a
chair previously held by Mr. Isaac Newton) in April 1980.

Hawking worked primarily in the field of general relativity and
particularly on the physics of black holes. In the late 1960s, he proved
that if general relativity is true and the universe is expanded, a
singularity must have occurred at the birth of the universe. In 1971 he
suggested the formation, following the big bang, of numerous objects
containing as much as 1,000,000,000 tons of mass but occupying only the
space of a proton. These objects, called mini black holes, are unique in
that their immense mass and gravity require that they be ruled by the laws
of relativity, while their minute size requires that the laws of quantum
mechanics apply to them also. In 1974 Hawking proposed that, in accordance
with the predictions of quantum theory, black holes emit subatomic
particles until they exhaust their energy and finally explode. Hawking’s
working spurred efforts to theoretically delineate the properties of black
holes, objects about which it was previously thought that nothing could be
known. His work showed these properties relationship to the laws of
classical thermodynamics and quantum mechanics.

His publications include THE LARGE SCALE STRUCTURE OF SPACE-TIME (1973;
coauthored with G.F.R. Ellis), SUPERSPACE AND SUPERGRAVITY (1981), THE VERY

Hawking is one of the most admired and brilliant theoretical physicists of
the 20th century, he became a widely known celebrity as well after his book
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME: from the Big Bang to black Holes unexpectedly
became a bestseller in 1988 (a motion picture based on the book followed).

The book spent more than four years on the London Sunday Times bestseller
list- the longest run for any book in history. He followed it with a series
of essays, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, in1993 and with
The Universe in a Nutshell in 2001.