Sunday, 7 April 2013

10 Cool Things You Didn't Know About Stephen Hawking


10 Cool Things You Didn't Know About Stephen Hawking


From some of his scientific beliefs to works he's written, there are a few things you might not have guessed about world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
Even if you don't keep a close eye on new developments in physics, you've probably heard of the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. He's prided himself on making his complex physical concepts accessible to the public and writing the bestseller, "A Brief History of Time."
And if you are a fan of Conan O'Brien, "The Simpsons" or "Star Trek," you might have seen him brandishing his cool wit during guest appearances on those shows.
Even if you are familiar with his academic work, however, there are many interesting facts you might not know about Hawking, stretching from his time at school and gradual development of disability to his opinions on the future of the human race.
Many find it surprising, for instance, that, despite his influential body of work, Hawking hasn't yet been awarded the Nobel Prize. We'll talk about some of the remarkable distinctions he has received, however.
Another interesting fact: Hawking was born on Jan. 8, 1942, which just happened to be the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death.
But this has just been the warm-up. Next, we'll delve into some fascinating and unexpected facts about Hawking, including some things about his profoundly inspirational story.
Took Zero-gravity Flight to Save the Human Race

Hawking has said he plans to explore space aboard Virgin Galactic's commercial spacecraft, the first of which was unveiled in December 2009.
Thierry Boccon-Gibod/Getty Images
In 2007, when Stephen Hawking was 65 years old, he got to take the ride of a lifetime. He was able to experience zero-gravity and float out of his wheelchair thanks to Zero Gravity Corp. The service involves an airplane ride in which sharp ascent and descent allows passengers to experience weightlessness in flight for several rounds, each about 25-seconds long.
Hawking, free from his wheelchair for the first time in four decades, was even able to perform gymnastic flips. Hawking also has booked a seat with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to ride on a sub-orbital flight.
But perhaps most interesting about this is not what he was able to do, but why he did it. When asked about why he wanted to do this, he of course cited his desire to go into space. But his reasons for going and his overall support for space travel went deeper than that.
Due to the possibility of global warming or nuclear war, Hawking has said that the future of the human race, if it is going to have a long one, will be in outer space [source: Boyle]. He supports private space exploration in hopes that space tourism will become affordable for the public. He hopes that we can travel to other planets to use their resources to survive [source: Daily Mail].
Read on for lots more information about Stephen Hawking, physics and other related subjects.
Believes in Possibility of Aliens


Hawking gives a lecture called "Why We Should Go Into Space" during NASA's 50th anniversary celebration in 2008.
Handout/Getty Images
Considering all of Hawking's work in cosmology, people are understandably interested in his opinions on the possibility of alien life. During NASA's 50th anniversary celebration in 2008, Hawking was invited to speak, and he mentioned his thoughts on the subject.
He expressed that, given the vastness of the universe, there very well could be primitive alien life out there, and it is possible, other intelligent life.
"Primitive life is very common," Hawking said, "and intelligent life is very rare." Of course, he threw in his characteristically sharp humor to say, "Some would say it has yet to occur onEarth" [source: Hawking]. He went on the say that humans should be wary of exposure to aliens because alien life will probably not be DNA-based, and we would not have resistance to diseases.
Hawking also did an episode on the possibility of aliens for "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking" on the Discovery Channel (the parent company of HowStuffWorks.com).
In this episode, he explains that aliens might use up their own planet's resources and "become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they could reach." Or, they could set up a mirror system to focus all the energy of the sun in one area, creating a wormhole -- a hole to travel through spacetime.
Is a Children's Book Author

Hawking co-wrote a children's book with his daughter, Lucy.
Mike Flokis/Getty Images
One of the most unexpected facets of Stephen Hawking's resume is that of being a children's book author. In 2007, Stephen and his daughter, Lucy Hawking, collaborated to write "George's Secret Key to the Universe."
The book is a fiction story about a young boy, George, who rebels against his parents' aversion to technology. He begins to befriend neighbors, one of whom is a physicist with acomputer. This turns out to be most powerful computer in the world, which offers portals to see and enter into outer space.
Of course, much of the book is meant to explain heavy scientific concepts, such as black holes and the origin of life, to children. In this context, it is very fitting that Hawking, who has always sought to make his work more accessible, would want to write such a book.
The book was written to be the first of a trilogy that would continue George's adventures. The next one in the series came out in 2009 and is called "George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt."
Has Numerous Awards and Distinctions

President Obama gives Hawking the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
In his long career in physics, Hawking has racked up an incredibly impressive array of awards and distinctions. We don't hope to be exhaustive in this small space, but we'll go over some of the highlights.
In 1974, he was inducted into the Royal Society (the royal academy of science in the U.K., dating back to 1660), and a year later, Pope Paul VI awarded him and Roger Penrose the Pius XI Gold Medal for Science. He also went on to receive the Albert Einstein Award and Hughes Medal from the Royal Society.
Hawking had so well established himself in the academic world by 1979 that he attained the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge in England -- a position he would keep for the next 30 years. The chair dates all the way back to 1663, and the second person to hold it was none other than Sir Isaac Newton.
In the 1980s, he was invested as a Commander of the British Empire, which is a rank in the U.K. just under being knighted. He also became a Companion of Honour, which is another distinction given in recognition of national service. There can no more than 65 members of the order at one time.
In 2009, Hawking was awarded the United States' highest civilian honor of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
All the while, Hawking attained at least 12 honorary degrees. However, the Nobel Prize continues to elude him.
Lost a Bet on Black Holes

From some of his scientific beliefs to works he's written, there are a few things you might not have guessed about world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
Even if you don't keep a close eye on new developments in physics, you've probably heard of the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. He's prided himself on making his complex physical concepts accessible to the public and writing the bestseller, "A Brief History of Time."
And if you are a fan of Conan O'Brien, "The Simpsons" or "Star Trek," you might have seen him brandishing his cool wit during guest appearances on those shows.
Even if you are familiar with his academic work, however, there are many interesting facts you might not know about Hawking, stretching from his time at school and gradual development of disability to his opinions on the future of the human race.
Many find it surprising, for instance, that, despite his influential body of work, Hawking hasn't yet been awarded the Nobel Prize. We'll talk about some of the remarkable distinctions he has received, however.
Another interesting fact: Hawking was born on Jan. 8, 1942, which just happened to be the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death.
But this has just been the warm-up. Next, we'll delve into some fascinating and unexpected facts about Hawking, including some things about his profoundly inspirational story.



These days, we know Hawking as a brilliant mind whose theories are difficult for a nonscientific mind to grasp. This is why it may come as a shock to learn that Hawking was a slacker when it came to his school studies.
In fact, when he was 9 years old, his grades ranked among the worst in his class [source: Larsen]. With a little more effort, he brought those grades up to about average, but not much better.
Nevertheless, from an early age he was interested in how stuff worked. He has talked about how he was known to disassemble clocks and radios. However, he admits he wasn't very good at putting them back together so they could work again.
Despite his poor grades, both his teachers and his peers seemed to understand that they had a future genius among them, evidenced by the fact that his nickname was "Einstein."
The problem with his mediocre grades was that his father wanted to send him to Oxford, but didn't have themoney without a scholarship. Luckily, when it came time for the scholarship exams, he aced them, getting an almost perfect score on the physics exam.




Helped Create the Boundless Universe Theory

From some of his scientific beliefs to works he's written, there are a few things you might not have guessed about world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
Even if you don't keep a close eye on new developments in physics, you've probably heard of the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. He's prided himself on making his complex physical concepts accessible to the public and writing the bestseller, "A Brief History of Time."
And if you are a fan of Conan O'Brien, "The Simpsons" or "Star Trek," you might have seen him brandishing his cool wit during guest appearances on those shows.
Even if you are familiar with his academic work, however, there are many interesting facts you might not know about Hawking, stretching from his time at school and gradual development of disability to his opinions on the future of the human race.
Many find it surprising, for instance, that, despite his influential body of work, Hawking hasn't yet been awarded the Nobel Prize. We'll talk about some of the remarkable distinctions he has received, however.
Another interesting fact: Hawking was born on Jan. 8, 1942, which just happened to be the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death.
But this has just been the warm-up. Next, we'll delve into some fascinating and unexpected facts about Hawking, including some things about his profoundly inspirational story.

Despite his poor grades early on, Hawking was able to get accepted at Oxford University.

Was Given a Few Years to Live at Age 21

From some of his scientific beliefs to works he's written, there are a few things you might not have guessed about world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
Even if you don't keep a close eye on new developments in physics, you've probably heard of the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. He's prided himself on making his complex physical concepts accessible to the public and writing the bestseller, "A Brief History of Time."
And if you are a fan of Conan O'Brien, "The Simpsons" or "Star Trek," you might have seen him brandishing his cool wit during guest appearances on those shows.
Even if you are familiar with his academic work, however, there are many interesting facts you might not know about Hawking, stretching from his time at school and gradual development of disability to his opinions on the future of the human race.
Many find it surprising, for instance, that, despite his influential body of work, Hawking hasn't yet been awarded the Nobel Prize. We'll talk about some of the remarkable distinctions he has received, however.
Another interesting fact: Hawking was born on Jan. 8, 1942, which just happened to be the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death.
But this has just been the warm-up. Next, we'll delve into some fascinating and unexpected facts about Hawking, including some things about his profoundly inspirational story.

Despite his poor grades early on, Hawking was able to get accepted at Oxford University.
These days, we know Hawking as a brilliant mind whose theories are difficult for a nonscientific mind to grasp. This is why it may come as a shock to learn that Hawking was a slacker when it came to his school studies.
In fact, when he was 9 years old, his grades ranked among the worst in his class [source: Larsen]. With a little more effort, he brought those grades up to about average, but not much better.
Nevertheless, from an early age he was interested in how stuff worked. He has talked about how he was known to disassemble clocks and radios. However, he admits he wasn't very good at putting them back together so they could work again.
Despite his poor grades, both his teachers and his peers seemed to understand that they had a future genius among them, evidenced by the fact that his nickname was "Einstein."
The problem with his mediocre grades was that his father wanted to send him to Oxford, but didn't have themoney without a scholarship. Luckily, when it came time for the scholarship exams, he aced them, getting an almost perfect score on the physics exam.

Hawking chose to study cosmology at university, even though it wasn't yet a popular field at the time.
Stephen Hawking took a liking to mathematics from an early age, and he would have liked to have majored in it. His father, Frank, however, had different ideas. He hoped Stephen would instead study medicine.
But, for all his interest in science, Stephen didn't care for biology. He has said that he found it to be "too inexact, too descriptive" [source: Larsen]. He would have rather devoted his mind to more precise, well-defined concepts.
One problem, however, was that Oxford didn't have mathematics as a major. The compromise was that Stephen would attend Oxford and major in physics.
In fact, even within physics, he focused on the bigger questions. When faced with deciding between the two tracks of particle physics, which studies the behavior of subatomic particles, versus cosmology, which studies the large universe as a whole, he chose the latter. He chose cosmology despite the fact that, at that time, he says, it was "hardly recognised as a legitimate field" [source: Hawking].
Was on Oxford Rowing Team




In explaining why, he said that particle physics "seemed like botany. There were all these particles, but no theory" [source: Larsen].

Oxford University's rowing club practices for a race in 2010. Hawking had served as the coxswain for the school's team nearly five decades earlier.
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Biographer Kristine Larsen writes about how Hawking faced isolation and unhappiness during his first year or so at Oxford. The thing that seems to have drawn him out of this funk was joining the rowing team.
Even before being diagnosed with a physically disabling illness, Hawking didn't have what one would call a large or athletic build. However, row teams recruited smaller men like Hawking to be coxswains -- a position that does not row, but rather controls steering and stroke rate.
Because rowing was so important and competitive at Oxford, Hawking's role on the team made him very popular. Remembering Hawking from those days, one fellow boatsman called him "the adventurous type" [source: Larsen].
But as much as the rowing team helped his popularity, it hurt his study habits. Occupied with rowing practice for six afternoons per week, Hawking started "to cut serious corners" and used "creative analysis to create lab reports" [source: Larsen].

A NUCLEAR CLOUD

When asked why she was willing to marry him, Jane said that in those times they lived under the "most awful nuclear cloud -- that with a four minute warning the world itself could likely end." She says they wanted "to make the most of whatever gifts were given us" [source:Larsen].
As a graduate student, Hawking gradually started showing symptoms of tripping and general clumsiness. His family became concerned when he was home during his Christmas break from school and they insisted he see a doctor.
Before seeing a specialist, however, he attended a New Year's party where he met his future wife, Jane Wilde. She remembers being attracted to his "his sense of humor and his independent personality."
He turned 21 a week later, and shortly after he entered the hospital for two weeks of tests to discover what was wrong with him. He was then diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which is a neurological disease that causes patients to lose control of their voluntary muscles. He was told he'd probably only have a few years to live.
Hawking remembers being shocked and wondering why this happened to him. However, seeing a boy dying of leukemia in the hospital made him realize that there were others worse off than him.
Hawking became more optimistic and started dating Jane. They were soon engaged, and he cites their engagement as giving him "something to live for" [source: Larsen].
Had an Aversion to Biology

Hawking chose to study cosmology at university, even though it wasn't yet a popular field at the time.
Stephen Hawking took a liking to mathematics from an early age, and he would have liked to have majored in it. His father, Frank, however, had different ideas. He hoped Stephen would instead study medicine.
But, for all his interest in science, Stephen didn't care for biology. He has said that he found it to be "too inexact, too descriptive" [source: Larsen]. He would have rather devoted his mind to more precise, well-defined concepts.
One problem, however, was that Oxford didn't have mathematics as a major. The compromise was that Stephen would attend Oxford and major in physics.
In fact, even within physics, he focused on the bigger questions. When faced with deciding between the two tracks of particle physics, which studies the behavior of subatomic particles, versus cosmology, which studies the large universe as a whole, he chose the latter. He chose cosmology despite the fact that, at that time, he says, it was "hardly recognised as a legitimate field" [source: Hawking].
In explaining why, he said that particle physics "seemed like botany. There were all these particles, but no theory" [source: Larsen].
Received Mediocre Grades in School


Despite his poor grades early on, Hawking was able to get accepted at Oxford University.
These days, we know Hawking as a brilliant mind whose theories are difficult for a nonscientific mind to grasp. This is why it may come as a shock to learn that Hawking was a slacker when it came to his school studies.
In fact, when he was 9 years old, his grades ranked among the worst in his class [source: Larsen]. With a little more effort, he brought those grades up to about average, but not much better.
Nevertheless, from an early age he was interested in how stuff worked. He has talked about how he was known to disassemble clocks and radios. However, he admits he wasn't very good at putting them back together so they could work again.
Despite his poor grades, both his teachers and his peers seemed to understand that they had a future genius among them, evidenced by the fact that his nickname was "Einstein."
The problem with his mediocre grades was that his father wanted to send him to Oxford, but didn't have themoney without a scholarship. Luckily, when it came time for the scholarship exams, he aced them, getting an almost perfect score on the physics exam.
source:http://science.howstuffworks.com


Post a Comment