Stephen Hawking’s incredible life


The flag flies at half mast at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, England, Wednesday March 14, 2018, after the death of British scientist Stephen Hawking, who had been a Fellow of the college for more than 50 years. Given only years to live when he was 21, Hawking beat all the odds to become the most famous scientist of his generation, pursuing a brilliant career and never thinking there was anything he couldn’t do. Hawking died Wednesday at age 76. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

About a week ago, the world lost one of its brightest stars, Stephen Hawking. A theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, Hawking was a pretty busy guy with a plethora of incredible accomplishments. The scientist was the man behind the discovery that black holes emit radiation, now called Hawking radiation, due to the “subtle consequences of quantum physics.” He then went on to completely solve the Black Hole Paradox, which has been troubling scientists for years. He also wrote several books, the first being A Brief History of Time, and the most recent being The Grand Design released in 2010. On top of all of these great scientific achievements, Hawking also fathered two children with his first wife, Jane Wilde, both of whom said, “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away… He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world.”

Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a rare neurological degenerative disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known in the U.S. as Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS, when he was just 21 years young. Already, this was a special case considering Hawking was at least 20 to 30 years younger than most patients with this disease. ALS makes its mark on the body by affecting the motor neurons in the brain that control our muscles. As time goes on the motor neurons degenerate and the brain no longer has control over the muscles in the body. The disease generally runs its course in two to five years. After his diagnosis, Hawking was told he had two more years to live, however when he died on March 14 2018 he was 76 years old. So, in addition to all of the scientific accomplishments made by Stephen Hawking, he was a scientific miracle himself.

Hawking never knew how long he had left to live. Every day could have been his last day. He publicly said on multiple occasions that “this uncertainty gave him an added incentive and hurry to continue his life’s work.” Stephen Hawking should be an inspiration to us all, because although Hawking’s situation was more dire due to his disease it is still true that no one really knows how long they have left to live. There are always things that can go wrong or happen in people’s lives that we don’t account for. Ask yourself: If I died tomorrow, would I be satisfied with my life? Have I accomplished all that I wished to accomplish? If the answer is no, to either or both of these questions, then there is a lesson that can be learned from Mr. Hawking’s wonderful life.

When you think of Stephen Hawking, what comes to mind? His incredible work for science comes to mind. His theories about black holes and his discoveries about time and everything around us should come to mind. His accomplishments in the fields of theoretical physics, mathematics, and more should come to mind. When I think of Stephen Hawking I do not think “disabled”. He was not a disabled person. In fact, he was much more able than most people. The things that Stephen Hawking has achieved in his lifetime are more amazing and numerous than what I ever hope to achieve in my own life, and he did this all while enduring a fatal degenerative disease. ALS did not disable him. It made him strong. It made him smarter, more focused, and more intent on following his passions in life. Hawking’s accomplishments should be a lesson to all those in the world that define people by their illnesses and disabilities. A person is not defined by a disability.

Kaitlyn Pierce is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached be reached via email at

Leave a Reply