A Brief History of Stephen Hawking

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World-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at 76. The award-winning British scientist was also a best-selling author of such books as "A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes" and "The Universe in a Nutshell.” He was considered to be the smartest man in the world and its greatest scientist. His influence will continue to have a profound effect on how we perceive reality.

PBS / Jason Bye

As a leading voice in scientific research, he worked his whole life to better understand the universe. He would go on to make several major breakthroughs, most notably his discovery that black holes are not entirely black. He even counts this as his greatest achievement, explaining that it is critical to comprehending "how paradoxes between quantum mechanics and general relativity can be resolved.” He was fascinated with gravity, as it was a significant part of these studies. Below is an image of him actually fulfilling his life-long dream of experiencing Zero-G.

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During his time as a graduate student in the early ‘60s he was diagnosed with a devastating neuromuscular wasting disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was confined to a wheelchair where he was forced to communicate using a speech-generating computer and doctors initially gave him only a few years to live. But he would thrive well beyond their expectations. And he was a huge part of popular culture. Beyond appearing on Star Trek, The Simpsons, Monty Python Live, and even a Pink Floyd song, he was also the subject of multiple documentaries and films. The Theory of Everything is an award winning biography in which Hawking allowed the use of his actual, copyrighted voice.

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The cause of death has not been revealed, but his family said he died peacefully. Check out the video below to see his interview with Jon Oliver...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPV3D7f3bHY