Dreaming of the stars What to learn from Stephen Hawking

AiF Zdorovye No. 14. Striped diet 07/26/2022

Who wants to achieve something — looking for an opportunity who doesn't want — looking for an excuse. Stephen Hawking — a seriously ill genius who lived his life so fruitfully, richly and brightly, as most healthy people never dreamed of.

He was only 21 years old. Behind  an Oxford diploma, an acquaintance with a charming girl Jane, whom he was going to marry, a dissertation begun. Plans ahead for a long, happy life. And then, like a bolt from the blue, the diagnosis sounded: ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Doctors gave a disappointing prognosis: a maximum of 2.5 years of life, and then inevitable death from suffocation, since the respiratory muscles also atrophy with this disease. But the patient himself did not agree with this and won fate half a century more than the doctors had promised. "The prospect of dying early made me realize that life is worth living", — he will write later.

Despite fate

Stephen Hawking was a remarkably healthy child. Neither in childhood, nor in youth was ill and did cause problems   — medical scientists who loved science, travel, and their four children (one of whom, Edward, was adopted).

Studying for the future genius was easy, however, at school he studied with laziness. Having entered the university, he plunged headlong into student life: he was a member of the rowing team, loved dancing, music, noisy companies. He was full of ideas and plans. But the disease that suddenly burst into the life of an Oxford graduate could cross everything out.

Neither and of with this of Hawking began to stumble and fall — — it was the first warning symptom of motor neuron disease (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease). The disease quickly leads to a gradual paralysis of all muscles. However, the young scientist had a rare slow form that progressed over decades. First, Hawking took a stick in his hands, then stood on crutches, then moved to a wheelchair. Further, the muscles, one by one, began to lose mobility.

To the edge of the possible

Theoretical physicist, cosmologist and astrophysicist, director of scientific work at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge University, life member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest award for civilians in the United States) — such a career would be the envy of many. In addition, Hawking — author of major discoveries in the "black holes" theory, creator of the foundations of quantum gravity. The scientist was a tireless public figure, a popularizer of science and a talented writer, whose works even today are read even by people far from science, including children. So, the book “A Brief History of Time” topped the British publisher's bestseller list for a record 237 weeks. “I sold more books about physics than Madonna sold about sex”, — joked the scientist.

In 2002 according to the results of a poll by the BBC, Stephen Hawking was among the 100 greatest Britons of all time, taking 25th place. Books and programs were filmed about him, interviews were done with he, his character even appeared in cartoons!

With the personal life of the great Stephen Hawking, too, everything went well. Instead of the funeral promised by the doctors, 2 years after the diagnosis, he played a wedding — love is stronger than death. Hawking was married twice, he had three children, who became not only his support, but also true friends. Contrary to the idea that genius — unsociable people, Stephen, who was distinguished not only by a sharp mind, but also by a great sense of humor, always had many friends. In their and American comedian Jim Carrey. The scientist himself appreciated his surroundings very much. "The universe would not sense     is a house where the most beloved and closest people live», — he said.

Life is beautiful!

In 2007  Stephen Hawking decided to experience the state of weightlessness. When he was over 60, being practically immobilized, he made a flight on a special aircraft, where this state was created for a short time. In 2009  the scientist was going to space, but the flight did not take place. Nevertheless, Hawking was convinced that humanity would definitely be able to master interstellar space. Stephen Hawking died at 76 years.

He had many talents. But, perhaps, the main — unique vitality. In 2012 at the opening of the Paralympic Games in London, he said: “There is no such thing as an unremarkable human existence. No matter how difficult life may seem, there is always things you can do and succeed in it». Perhaps each of we should learn from this.

6 facts about Stephen Hawking

1. The scientist was born on January 8, 1942. Exactly 300 years earlier, on the same day, Galileo Galilei died — one of the greatest astronomers, physicists, mathematicians and engineers.

2. Stephen Hawking held the same honorary position as the "father of physics" Isaac Newton, — Lukasovsky Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. Of course, with a 3 centenary difference.

3. Until 8 years, Hawking could not read, wrote like a chicken paw and, by his own admission, was extremely uncollected and lazy. But, having become interested in physics, by the end of school he turned into a brilliant student, thanks to which he passed the entrance exam to Oxford, getting the highest scores.

4. Hawking did not study mathematics after school, which did not prevent him from teaching this discipline at the university. He found a way out: he read the same textbook as his students, only ahead of them by a couple of weeks.

5. Hawking first saw his first wife when he was a first-grader, but they met at a university party. By the way, the mother of three children of the scientist was a professor, a specialist in the field of medieval literature.

6. In 1973  Hawking came to the USSR, where he discussed the problems of “black holes” with  leading Soviet experts in   — Yakov Zeldovich and Aleksey Starobinsky.

Interesting! In 1985, Hawking suffered pneumonia, and after he had a tracheostomy, he lost the ability to speak. Steven communicated with the help of a voice synthesizer, which, after his hands failed, was controlled by almost the only working muscle of his cheek. But the ingenious mind of the scientist never refused, as well as optimism, the will to live, a unique sense of humor. They made him the very man-legend known all over the world.

In memory of Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking at NASA, 1980s. © Public Domain

Stephen Hawking and his second wife Elaine Mason. September 16, 1995. © Reuters

Microsoft President Bill Gates meets with Professor Stephen Hawking at the University of Cambridge. October 7, 1997 © Reuters

Stephen Hawking and his wife Elaine on the beach of San Lorenzo in the Spanish city of Gijón. April 10, 2005. © Reuters

Stephen Hawking during his visit to Beijing to attend the conference. June 18, 2006. © www.globallookpress.com/Yang Chen ” height=”531″ width=”798″ style=”display: block;” />

Stephen Hawking delivers a lecture on “The Origin of the Universe” at the Heysel conference hall in Brussels. May 20, 2007. © Reuters

Stephen Hawking experiences weightlessness aboard a special simulator based on the Boeing 727. April 26, 2007. © Public Domain

Former South African President Nelson Mandela meeting with Stephen Hawking at the Mandela Foundation office in Johannesburg. May 15, 2008. © Reuters

Pope Benedict XVI welcomes British professor Stephen Hawking during a meeting of scientists in the Vatican. October 31, 2008. © Reuters

US President Barack Obama presents Stephen Hawking with the Medal of Freedom to a scientist in the East Room of the White House in Washington. August 12, 2009. © Reuters

Queen Elizabeth II meets Stephen Hawking during a charity reception at St. James's Palace in London. May 29, 2014. © Reuters

Stephen Hawking's ex-wife Jane Wilde kisses him at the premiere of “Stephen Hawking's Universe” in London. December 9, 2014. Nearby are the leading actors Eddie Redmine and Felicity Jones. © Reuters

Stephen Hawking and his daughter Lucy at the British Academy of Film and Arts (BAFTA) Awards at the Royal Opera House in London. February 8, 2015. © Reuters

In memory of Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking at NASA, 1980s. © Public Domain

Stephen Hawking and his second wife Elaine Mason. September 16, 1995. © Reuters

Microsoft President Bill Gates meets with Professor Stephen Hawking at the University of Cambridge. October 7, 1997 © Reuters

Stephen Hawking and his wife Elaine on the beach of San Lorenzo in the Spanish city of Gijón. April 10, 2005. © Reuters

Stephen Hawking during his visit to Beijing to attend the conference. June 18, 2006. © www.globallookpress.com/Yang Chen =”display: block;” />

Stephen Hawking delivers a lecture on “The Origin of the Universe” at the Heysel conference hall in Brussels. May 20, 2007. © Reuters

Stephen Hawking experiences weightlessness aboard a special simulator based on the Boeing 727. April 26, 2007. © Public Domain

Former South African President Nelson Mandela meeting with Stephen Hawking at the Mandela Foundation office in Johannesburg. May 15, 2008. © Reuters

Pope Benedict XVI welcomes British professor Stephen Hawking during a meeting of scientists in the Vatican. October 31, 2008. © Reuters

US President Barack Obama presents Stephen Hawking with the Medal of Freedom to a scientist in the East Room of the White House in Washington. August 12, 2009. © Reuters

Queen Elizabeth II meets Stephen Hawking during a charity reception at St. James's Palace in London. May 29, 2014. © Reuters

Stephen Hawking's ex-wife Jane Wilde kisses him at the premiere of “Stephen Hawking's Universe” in London. December 9, 2014. Nearby are the leading actors Eddie Redmine and Felicity Jones. © Reuters

Stephen Hawking and his daughter Lucy at the British Academy of Film and Arts (BAFTA) Awards at the Royal Opera House in London. February 8, 2015. © Reuters

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