In a society that reveres entertainers and athletes, it’s important to occasionally remember the people who actually Do Something.
Dr. Stephen William Hawking was born January 8, 1942 in Oxford, England. He was born on Elvis Presley’s seventh birthday. Had he lived, he would have been 80 years old today.
Dr. Hawking was a mathematician, a physicist, and an author, and commonly considered one of the most intelligent people of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Hawking in Space
Like many scientists, Hawking was a science fiction fan. Like most science fiction fans, he wanted to go into space himself and he wanted to be on Star Trek. He achieved both goals, going to the edges of space April 26, 2007: he “flew aboard a specially-modified Boeing 727-200 jet operated by Zero-G Corp off the coast of Florida to experience weightlessness. Fears that the manoeuvres would cause him undue discomfort proved groundless, and the flight was extended to eight parabolic arcs.”
Like Dr. Mae Jemison, he appeared on one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993. While Dr. Jemison played a crew member, a transporter operator, Dr. Hawking played a hologram of himself whom Data had programmed to provide himself with sufficiently challenging intellectual companionship during a poker game.
Hawking in Entertainment
In the third Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner o Azkaban, an unnamed wizard in the Leaky Cauldron is shown reading Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time. The same book is shown on screen in Big Bang Theory and Men in Black: International. It is his best-known book for laymen.
He was often mentioned and frequently mocked on The Big Bang Theory and on The Simpsons. Dr. Hawking played himself on Futurama, The Simpsons, and The Big Bang Theory. He was so synonomous with genius in the public eye, that in The Avengers when Agent Coulson wanted to explain Dr. Banner to Steve Rogers, he automatically compared him to Stephen Hawking, even though Dr. Hawking was still in nappies when Captain America went into the ice.
Dr. Hawking, CH, FRS, FRSA, CBE held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at England’s Cambridge University, the same position held by Sir Isaac Newton in the sixteenth century and Paul Dirac in the early 20th century. He was a Fellow of the Royal Socirty (FRS) and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA). He had Ph.D.s in mathematics and theoretical physics. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1982 New Years Honours, He allegedly refused a knighthood. The Royal Mint issued a fifty pence coin in his honor, with a picture of a black hole, The formula S = kc^3 A / 4?G is on the coin: the Bekenstein-Hawking Formula which calculates the thermodynamic entropy of a Schwarzschild black hole of a given mass. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also had several honorary doctorates in addition to the ones he earned.
He wrote numerous books on science, including a seriesof children’s books he co-wrote with his daughter. He was married and divorced twice and had two sons and a daughter.
At the age of 20,, Dr. Hawking was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and given a life expectancy of two years. The disease confined him to a wheelchair, but did not kill him until 2018. The disease eventually robbed him of the power of speech. He used an electronic vocal synthesizer to speak, which people described as an odd, robotlike voice. He passed away March 14, 2018 in Cambridge, England.
Dr. Hawking encouraged the exploration and colinization of space. He warned against the dangers of climate change, ALS, and the privatization of the British NHS.
Dr. Stephen William Hawking, January 8, 1942 – April 14, 20018; his body was cremated and his ashes interred in Westminster Abbey, between the graves of his intellectual peers Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. He will not be forgotten so long as human memory lasts.
Two biographical films were made about his life while he was still alive, Stephen Hawking’s Universe, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange in the MCU, and Aherlock Holmes in Sherlock), and The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scarmander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ).
Despite his debilitating disease, few men have ever stood as tall as Dr. Stephen Hawking.
May his name live on forever.
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Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.