He later calculated that his work there 'amounted to an average of just an hour a day' and commented: 'I'm not proud of this lack of work, I'm just describing my attitude at the time, which I shared with most of my fellow students. Hawking got a first and went to Cambridge to begin work on his PhD, but already he was beginning to experience early symptoms of his illness. During his last year at Oxford he became clumsy, and twice fell over for no apparent reason.
Shortly after his 21st birthday he went for tests, and at 22 he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. The news came as an enormous shock that for a time plunged the budding academic into deep despair. But he was rescued by an old friend, Jane Wilde, who went on to become his first wife, giving him a family with three children. After a painful period coming to terms with his condition, Prof Hawking threw himself into his work.
At one Royal Society meeting, the still-unknown Hawking interrupted a lecture by renowned astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle, then at the pinnacle of his career, to inform him that he had made a mistake. An irritated Sir Fred asked how Hawking presumed to know that his calculations were wrong. Hawking replied: 'Because I've worked them out in my head. In the s, Prof Hawking and Professor Jim Hartle, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, proposed a model of the universe which had no boundaries in space or time.
The concept was described in his best-selling popular science book A Brief History Of Time, published in , which sold 25 million copies worldwide. As well as razor sharp intellect, Prof Hawking also possessed an almost child-like sense of fun, which helped to endear him to members of the public. He booked a seat on Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space plane and rehearsed for the trip by floating inside a steep-diving Nasa aircraft - dubbed the 'vomit comet' - used to simulate weightlessness.
On one wall of his office at Cambridge University was a clock depicting Homer Simpson, whose theory of a 'doughnut-shaped universe' he threatened to steal in an episode of the cartoon show. He is said to have glared at the clock whenever a visitor was late.
He went on to become director of research in the university's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. Upheaval in his personal life also hit the headlines, and in February he left Jane, his wife of 25 years, to set up home with one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. The couple married in September but divorced in Throughout his career Prof Hawking was showered with honorary degrees, medals, awards and prizes, and in he was made a CBE.
But he also ruffled a few feathers within the scientific establishment with far-fetched statements about the existence of extraterrestrials, time travel, and the creation of humans through genetic engineering. He has also predicted the end of humanity, due to global warming, a new killer virus, or the impact of a large comet.
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In he teamed up with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner who has launched a series of projects aimed at finding evidence of alien life. Hawking and his new bride Elaine Mason pose for pictures after the blessing of their wedding at St. Barnabus Church September 16, The decade-long Breakthrough Listen initiative aims to step up the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Seti by listening out for alien signals with more sensitivity than ever before.
The even bolder Starshot Initiative, announced in , envisages sending tiny light-propelled robot space craft on a year voyage to the Alpha Centauri star system. Meanwhile Prof Hawking's 'serious' work continued, focusing on the thorny question of what happens to all the information that disappears into a black hole. One of the fundamental tenets of physics is that information data can never be completely erased from the universe. A paper co-authored by Prof Hawking and published online in Physical Review Letters in June suggests that even after a black hole has evaporated, the information it consumed during its life remains in a fuzzy 'halo' - but not necessarily in the proper order.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes, 59, died suddenly 'of natural causes' during a break in filming new ITV show in Dubai with his wife at his side as tributes pour in for spiky-haired 'first rock star of cooking'. Humans must leave Earth in the next years if we want to survive.
Scroll down for video. Share this article Share. Stephen Hawking's pearls of wisdom - On the reason why the universe exists: 'If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God' - A Brief History Of Time, published Share or comment on this article: Stephen Hawking's final warning to humanity e-mail 29k.
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