When Stephen Hawking went to Washington


British astronaut Tim Peake said the professor had "inspired generations to look beyond our own blue planet and expand our understanding of the universe".

Prof Hawking was no stranger to controversy and seemed to relish it. At one Royal Society meeting, the still unknown scientist interrupted a lecture by the renowned astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle to inform him he had made a mistake.

The eldest of four children, Prof Hawking was born on January 8 1942 in Oxford, 300 years after the death of Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. Doctors, he recalled, told him it was atypical and "not multiple sclerosis".

People with ALS typically die from respiratory failure, which occurs when the nerve cells controlling the breathing muscles stop working, or from malnutrition and dehydration, which can occur when the muscles that control swallowing deteriorate. But it steadily became apparent that, unlike other forms of the disease, the severe prognosis proved increasingly inaccurate.

Upheaval in his personal life also hit the headlines, and in February 1990 he left Jane, his wife of 25 years, to set up home with one of his nurses, Elaine Mason.

SPACED OUT What is a black hole? You contributed more in a lifetime than many of us could ever dream, and for that some of us are eternally grateful. In 1997, the trio wagered over whether a black hole destroys the information encoded in the objects it gravitationally devours. Hawking replied: "Because I've worked them out in my head". But the paradox remains unsolved.

In 1971, Hawking's essay titled "Black Holes" won the Gravity Research Foundation Award. "I like Chinese culture, Chinese food and above all Chinese women". So, I immediately said, I'll take that bet. MND has taught me to focus on the here and now; to appreciate things that I used to take for granted, and although there have been times when I have thought that I didn't want to go on, I am, for the moment, very glad to be alive.

Stephen Hawking, the world-famous English scientist has died today at the age of 76. Looking through their lenses of rigid dogma, they are only able to attack and defame. "Who knows what the limits would be?" And thus it's no surprise that on the occasion of his death, the actor who played him in the biopic The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne, saw fit to pay tribute to the cultural giant. "There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark".

His life was a juxtaposition of sparkling intellect and failing body. He spent time with ALS sufferers so he could be authentic. "But I don't like pizza and hope I would never have to use a boxing glove".

Military veterans are up to twice as likely to be diagnosed as the general public, for unknown reasons.

Hawking touches on a grand unified theory of science, quantum mechanics, natural selection, DNA, the complexity of the human brain and fluid dynamics in particular before arguing that assuming that we have free will is the safest course of action. Wormholes are basically tunnels through space that can shorten the distance between time. "So far, the trend seems to be toward ... technology driving ever-increasing inequality".



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