Stephen Hawking: Brilliant Scientist With Motor Neuron Disease. He Lived Longer Than Anyone Expected
Professor Stephen Hawking, who dedicated his whole life to finding out the biggest mysteries of the universe, was a bit of the mystery himself. Some pitied him, others – praised, wondering how someone with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) could live for so long.
Unable to move a muscle or talk without the help of a computer, Hawking continued his life’s work despite anything. The British theoretical physicist was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called motor neuron disease, at the age of 21.
The disease is characterized by symptoms like stiff muscles and muscle twitching. The condition gradually worsens due to muscles decreasing in size. The results include difficulties with speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing. The average survival from the appearance of the disease to a patient’s death is two to four years. Only 10% survive longer than 10 years. Professor Hawking lived despite the devastating numbers.
ALS put him in a wheelchair and took away the ability to speak, but the scientist continued to work. Despite the profound depression, knowing that he has a couple of years to live, he found the strength to complete his doctorate. Later, Hawking took the position of Lucasian professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, the same post that Isaac Newton held 300 years earlier.
Hawking risen to become one of the most renowned and recognizable scientists on the planet as he traveled the world, met with presidents, visited Antarctica and Easter Island, appeared on TV, and even flew on special "zero-gravity" jet. The scientist once said:
My goal is simple. It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
He dedicated much of his career to trying to find a way to restore Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum physics and produce a "Theory of Everything".
Hawking also wrote A Brief History of Time explaining to the readers from the non-scientific background the origins and fate of the universe. The book became an international bestseller and was translated into more than 20 languages.
The 76-year-old, who shaped the modern cosmology and helped many people to understand the universe, peacefully passed away this morning.
The UK Prime Minister Theresa May and actor Eddie Redmayne, who received an Oscar for portraying Hawking on the big screen, joined many scientists and entertainers in sharing their condolences.
His brilliant mind as well as the hilarious sense of humor left an unforgettable mark in the hearts of people who loved and admired him, and his bright star will never stop shining on the endless sky of science.