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Stephen Hawking’s The 71st Birthday

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 9, 2013

Stephen Hawking, Cambridge, Jason Bye, 19/09/08Sitting in a wheel chair since the age of 28 due to paralysis because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) related motor neuron disease, Stephen William Hawking, (born 8 January 1942) became world renowned theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. He can’t speak thus he communicates through a speech generating device with a vocal supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

His doctor told him that he won’t survive long because in the world ALS survival for more than 10 years after diagnosis is uncommon. however now he is 71 years.

Among his significant scientific works have been a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularities theorems in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set forth a cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a vocal supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of thePresidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009.

Hawking has achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his A Brief History of Time stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Hawking has a motor neurone disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition that has progressed over the years. He is almost entirely paralysed and communicates through a speech generating device. He married twice and has three children.

Main article: Thorne–Hawking–Preskill bet

In 1997, Hawking made a public scientific wager with Kip Thorne and John Preskill of Caltech concerning the black hole information paradox. Thorne and Hawking argued that since general relativity made it impossible for black holes to radiate and lose information, the mass-energy and information carried by Hawking Radiation must be “new”, and not from inside the black hole event horizon. Since this contradicted the quantum mechanics of microcausality, quantum mechanics would need to be rewritten. Preskill argued the opposite, that since quantum mechanics suggests that the information emitted by a black hole relates to information that fell in at an earlier time, the concept of black holes given by general relativity must be modified in some way. The winner of the bet was to receive an encyclopedia of the loser’s choice.

In 2004, Hawking announced that he was conceding the bet because he now believed that black hole horizons should fluctuate and leak information, and gave Preskill a copy of Total Baseball. Comparing the useless information obtainable from a black hole to “burning an encyclopedia”, Hawking commented, “I gave John an encyclopedia of baseball, but maybe I should just have given him the ashes”

Space and spaceflight

Hawking, without his wheelchair, floating weightless in the air inside a plane

Hawking taking a zero-gravity flight in a “Vomit Comet” in 2007

Hawking has suggested that space is the Earth’s long term hope and has indicated that he is almost certain that alien life exists in other parts of the universe: “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like”. He believes alien life not only exists on planets but perhaps in other places, like within stars or floating in outer space. He has also warned that a few of these species might be intelligent and threaten Earth: “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans”. He has advocated that, rather than try to establish contact, humans should try to avoid contact with alien life forms.

In 2007, Hawking took a zero-gravity flight in a “Vomit Comet“, courtesy of Zero Gravity Corporation, during which he experienced weightlessness eight times. He was the first quadriplegic to float in zero gravity. Before the flight Hawking said:

“Many people have asked me why I am taking this flight. I am doing it for many reasons. First of all, I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space. I therefore want to encourage public interest in space.



Barack Obama talking to Stehen Hawking in the White House

U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Stephen Hawking in the Blue Room of the White House before a ceremony presenting him and 15 others the Presidential Medal of Freedom on 12 August 2009.

On 19 December 2007, a statue of Hawking by artist Ian Walters was unveiled at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, University of Cambridge.]Buildings named after Hawking include the Stephen W. Hawking Science Museum in San Salvador, El Salvador, the Stephen Hawking Building in Cambridge, and the Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute in Canada. In 2002, following a UK-wide vote, the BBC included him in their list of the 100 Greatest Britons.

Awards and honours

As well as though mentioned above Hawking has been awarded the Gold Medal (1985) from the British Royal Astronomical Societyand Copley (2006) Medals from the Royal Society. He shared the Israeli Wolf Prize in Physics with Roger Penrose in 1988. In 1981 he was awarded the American Franklin Medal, in 1999 the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, and in 2003 the Michelson-Morley Award of Case Western Reserve University. He was made a CBE in 1982 and a Companion of Honour in 1989. In 2009 he received America’s highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, He has also been awarded Spain’s Fonseca Prize (2008) and the Russian Fundamental Physics Prize (2012).

Popular publications

Hawking’s first popular science book, A Brief History of Time, was published on 1 April 1988[161] and stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.[162] It was followed by The Universe in a Nutshell (2001). A collection of essays titled Black Holes and Baby Universes (1993) was also popular. He co-wrote A Briefer History of Time (2005) withLeonard Mlodinow to update his earlier works to make them accessible to a wider audience. In 2007 Hawking and his daughter, Lucy Hawking, published George’s Secret Key to the Universe, a children’s book focusing on science that Lucy Hawking described as “a bit like Harry Potter but without the magic.”

Whatever is bright and beautiful, whatever means the most to you, whatever brings you happiness, and these are the things I wish for you Happy birthday and wish you a long life Stephen, so that mankind get the benefit of your scientific contributions.


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