On March 14, 2018, Stephen Hawking died from a disease which doctors thought would kill him 50 years earlier. He was a brilliant cosmologist who did groundbreaking work despite being wheelchair-bound and in later years, unable to speak.
Hawking was born in 1942. From an early age he was fascinated by the stars, a characteristic he shared with his mother and siblings. When he was young, he was not focused on education as much as he was on other activities, such as rowing and playing board games. He was diagnosed with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
, or ALS, when he was 21. This disease shuts down nerves in the body that control muscles. When the doctors told him he may only live a few years longer, Hawking dedicated himself to his studies.
As an adult, Hawking had many scientific achievements. He researched black holes and the universe in general, discovering and theorizing monumental things. For example, he proved that radiation can escape the gravitational pull of a collapsed star, which scientists hadn't previously known. He also wrote many books about his field for the general public, something that not many scientists had done before. Hawking researched many phenomena in physics and cosmology and made information within them much more accessible to the average person.
When thinking about Stephen Hawking, many people may only know about his groundbreaking work. Not many may know about his personal life. In 1965, he married Jane Wilde and they later had three children: Robert, Lucy, and Timothy. In 1990, he divorced his wife for his nurse, Elaine Mason. He and Elaine married five years later, and Hawking grew more apart from his children. After eleven years of marriage, they divorced. In his later years, Hawking became closer to his children again.
Stephen Hawking died, fittingly, on Pi Day: a day whose date is the first three digits of pi, which is a very important number in mathematics. Hawking lived until he was 76, after a life of many achievements and contributions to science, when doctors thought he would die before he was 25. Regardless of his disease, he lived a remarkably long, full and productive life.