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Stephen had a great sense of humour, appearing enthusiastically in comedy shows such as The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, as well as in comedy sketches on TV with Little Britain stars for Comic Relief. He also participated in numerous self-deprecating advertising campaigns for brands such as British Telecom, Specsavers, Egg Banking and Go Compare. In the latter, he arranged for an opera singer to be sucked into a black hole. Stephen would probably be pleased if his images continue to appear in suitable campaigns, continuing to earn income for his beloved Foundation, which provides scholarships for students to study cosmology.
Professor Hawking died at the age of 76 in 2018.
When Stephen Hawking began his graduate studies, there was much debate in the physics community about the prevailing theories of the creation of the universe: the Big Bang and the Steady State theories. Inspired by Roger Penrose’s theorem of a spacetime singularity in the centre of black holes, Hawking applied the same thinking to the entire universe, and during 1965 wrote his thesis on this topic.
In 1963, Stephen Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. He obtained his PhD degree in cosmology in March 1966, and his essay entitled “Singularities and the Geometry of Space-Time” shared top honours with one by Penrose to win that year’s prestigious Adams Prize.
He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time which was an international bestseller. Director of Research at the Institute for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge, his other books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universe and The Universe in a Nutshell.
His key scientific works have included providing, with Roger Penrose, theorems regarding gravitational singularities in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation, which is today known as Hawking radiation.
Professor Hawking was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2002 the BBC included him in their list of the 100 Greatest Britons. In 2006 Hawking was awarded the Copley Medal from the Royal Society and in 2013 the Russian Special Fundamental Physics Prize.
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