Who was Stephen Hawking, and why was he famous? As budding scientists themselves, your children are bound to ask questions about the man in the wheelchair with the strange voice. And rightly so, for this is a man to be talked about and remembered for so many ground-breaking discoveries in science.
On the way to school yesterday morning, as we heard the news of Stephen Hawking’s death, my children asked why he died. This is a perfectly reasonable question, and one I answered with suggestions as I didn’t know exactly why he had died. We listened to the news reader and tried to make sense of a man who defied the doctors’ words and went on to live for an ‘extra’ 53 years.
“Although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research,” Stephen said.
“My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
Alok Jha explains why black holes are doomed to shrink into nothingness then explode with the energy of a million nuclear bombs, and rewinds to the big bang and the origin of the universe. From The Guardian.
A brief timeline of Stephen’s life and career
- Stephen Hawking is a British theoretical physicist, he was born on January the 8th, 1942.
- Hawking has made many important contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity. He is also well known for his bestselling book ‘A Brief History of Time’.
- Helped by the success of his book ‘A Brief History of Time’, Hawking has released other books aimed at making his work accessible to a wide range of people, these include ‘The Universe in a Nutshell’, ‘A Briefer History of Time’ and ‘George’s Secret Key to the Universe’, a children’s book with a strong focus on science.
- Hawking has worked extensively on the subject of black holes, providing theories for their behaviour, including the idea that they emit radiation.
- Hawking suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a type of motor neuron disease that has left him almost completely paralysed.
- Some of the awards Hawking has received for his work include the 1979 Albert Einstein Medal, the Order of the British Empire (Commander) in 1982 and the 1988 Wolf Prize in Physics.
Famous Stephen Hawking quotes include:
- “There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe and what can be more special than that there is no boundary?”
- “I don’t believe that the ultimate theory will come by steady work along existing lines. We need something new. We can’t predict what that will be or when we will find it because if we knew that, we would have found it already!”
- “For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen.”
- “It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven’t done badly. People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”
- “I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.”
What was it like having Stephen Hawking as your Dad?
Lucy Hawking describes the moment her famous scientist father, Doctor Stephen Hawking, was asked by a child – what happens if you fall into a black hole?
“As a child you could ask any question you wanted – and get a reply,” she said.
One of the many books written by Lucy and Stephen Hawking:
George’s pet pig breaks through the fence into the garden next door – introducing him to his new neighbours: the scientist, Eric, his daughter, Annie, and a super-intelligent computer called Cosmos. And from that moment George’s life will never be the same again, for Cosmos can open a portal to any point in outer space . . .
Written by science educator Lucy Hawking and her father – the most famous scientist in the world – and illustrated by Garry Parsons, George’s Secret Key to the Universe will take you on a rollercoaster ride through space to discover the mysteries of our universe.
Stephen Hawking quotes your kids will like…
On the universe: “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.”
On persistence: “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” – at an Oxford University Union speech in 2016.
On curiosity: “So remember, look at the stars and not at your feet.” – at the Sydney Opera House in 2015.
On space: “May you keep flying like superman in microgravity.” – to NASA astronauts in 2014.
‘Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.’ Stephen Hawking’s words are an inspiration to us all regardless of our age, abilities or dreams.
Stephen Hawking, 1942- 2018