Hawking, the man whose brain transcended disability

Despite his handicap, Stephen Hawking was one of the first to popularise deep science and reveal the secrets of the Universe to a broad public | © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP | Jemal Countess
Despite his handicap, Stephen Hawking was one of the first to popularise deep science and reveal the secrets of the Universe to a broad public | © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP | Jemal Countess

by Antoine POLLEZ
London (AFP) | 14 March 2018 10:27

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus,” he told the New York Times in 2004.

Hawking was given only a few years to live when he was diagnosed in 1964, but defied the medical profession in typically stubborn fashion.

“I have lived five decades longer than doctors predicted. I have tried to make good use of my time,” he said in 2013 autobiographical documentary “Hawking”.

“Because every day could be my last, I have the desire to make the most of each and every minute,” he added.

But the disease gradually deprived him of mobility and confined him to a wheelchair.

He was eventually left almost completely paralysed and unable to speak, except through a voice synthesiser operated by facial movements.

Despite his handicap, the scientist was one of the first to popularise deep science, utilising a range of media to educate the general public on the secrets of the universe.

– Household name –

His struggle was portrayed in the 2014 film “The Theory of Everything”, which won an Oscar and Golden Globes.

But it was through scientific articles and his 1988 international bestseller “A Brief History of Time” that Hawking was able to communicate his genius and share his discoveries about black holes.

Hawking was an undisputed heavyweight in his field, holding the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics professorship at the University of Cambridge between 1978 and 2009, a post once held by Isaac Newton, the father of universal gravity.

“My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics,” he said in Science Digest in 1984.

“Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in.”

In recent years, he enthusiastically adopted social media to spread his scientific research, responding to fans with messages signed off “SH”.

He boasted 4.1 million Facebook followers, nearly 30,000 on Twitter and amassed millions of followers within hours when he signed up to Chinese social media platform Weibo.

– ‘Keep talking’ –

Hawking credited the support of his family and friends with giving him the strength to keep up his remarkable pace.

“I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students,” he said.

As news broke of his death, Hawking’s philosophical musings became particularly poignant.

“For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals,” he once said.

“Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination.

“We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking.

“With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”

© 2018 AFP

AUTHOR
AFP

Latest International News

Top

Thanks for your referral. We have no doubt your friends will love our newsletter as much as you!

Don't forget to verify your email.

to our FREE newsletter
SUBSCRIBE to our FREE newsletter.




SELECT your titles:

Highvelder
RidgeTimes
Standerton Advertiser


Get regular news updates sent directly to your inbox.

Your source of local breaking news and trending stories from across the country.

Be a part of our growing community

1MILFacebook Fans
98KTwitter Followers
5MILMonthly Readers
12MILArticles Published Every Month
72Local Community Websites

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE newsletter

SELECT your titles:

Highvelder
RidgeTimes
Standerton Advertiser

Get regular news updates sent directly to you inbox.

Your source of local breaking news and trending stories from across the country.

Be a part of our growing community

Subscribe Here
1MILFacebook Fans
98KTwitter Followers
5MILMonthly Readers
12MILArticles Published Every Month
72Local Community Websites
Your details:


Your friends: