Even if you don’t closely follow developments in physics, you’ve most likely heard of Stephen Hawking, the renowned physicist who figured out black holes. He prided himself on bringing complex physical concepts to the public in an accessible way by writing the impressive bestseller, A Brief History of Time.
Even if you might be familiar with his academic papers, however, there are many mind-blowing facts you might not know about this genius, stretching from his early life to the gradual development of his disability, his beliefs, and sad death. Let’s get to it!
Doctors told him he was going to die young
As a graduate student, S.H started showing worsening symptoms of tripping, tiredness and general clumsiness on a daily basis. His concerned family got worried when he came back home during his Christmas break, and they soon started to insist for him to see a doctor.
However, before he even booked an appointment, he went to a New Year’s party in his hometown where he met his future wife, the equally famous Jane Wilde.
A week later, he turned 21, and not long after he entered the hospital for more than two weeks of tests taken so the doctors could discover what was going on with him. The devastating news came fast. The diagnose he was given was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, a neurological disease which makes patients lose control of their voluntary muscles. Then he was told by specialists that he only had a few years left to live.
How did he die?
The disease Hawking suffered from is unforgiving. ALS is a debilitating disease with no cure and that destroys the neurons which help us control the voluntary muscles of the body.
That’s why the professor spent most of his adult life confined to a high-tech wheelchair. And ultimately, it was this disease that killed him. The good news is that he was one of the world’s longest survivors of ALS and that he died at the of age 76, so he had plenty of time to bless us with his magnificent mind.
He believed in peculiar things
Hawking believed humanity would bring its extinction upon itself. In November 2017, during the annual Tencent WE Summit in Beijing, he told the audience that humans would devour enough energy to turn the planet into a giant ball of ruthless fire by the year 2600.
He also thought that it is likely too late to change anything about this course and our only chance of survival, ridiculous or not, is to escape planet Earth as soon as possible.
Books made him famous
In early 1988, Hawking became internationally acclaimed with the now-famous publication A Brief History of Time. The short and informative book became an instant bestseller and an account of cosmology for the masses. It offered the public an overview of space and time, black holes and the existence of God, which got him some criticism from the Catholic Church.