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Prof Stephen Hawking's principal fields of research are theoretical cosmology and quantum gravity. In 1971, in collaboration with Sir Roger Penrose, he proved the first of many singularity theorems; such theorems provide a set of sufficient conditions for the existence of a singularity in space-time. This work showed that, far from being mathematical curiosities which appear only in special cases, singularities are a fairly generic feature of general relativity.
Hawking also suggested that, after the Big Bang, primordial or mini black holes were formed. With Bardeen and Carter, he proposed the four Laws of black hole mechanics, drawing an analogy with thermodynamics. In 1974, he calculated that black holes should thermally create and emit subatomic particles, known as Hawking radiation, until they exhaust their energy and evaporate.
In collaboration with Jim Hartle, Hawking developed a model in which the Universe had no boundary in space-time, replacing the initial singularity of the classical Big Bang models with a region akin to the North pole; while one cannot travel North of the North pole, there is no boundary there. While originally the no-boundary proposal predicted a closed Universe, discussions with Neil Turok led to the realization that the no-boundary proposal is consistent with a Universe which is not closed also.
Stephen William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 (300 years after the death of Galileo) in Oxford, England. His parents' house was in north London, but during the second world war, Oxford was considered a safer place to have babies. When he was eight, his family moved to St. Albans, a town about 20 miles north of London. At the age of eleven, Stephen went to St. Albans School and then on to University College, Oxford; his father's old college. Stephen wanted to study Mathematics, although his father would have preferred medicine. Mathematics was not available at University College, so he pursued Physics instead. After three years and not very much work, he was awarded a first class honours degree in Natural Science.
Stephen then went on to Cambridge to do research in Cosmology, there being no one working in that area in Oxford at the time. His supervisor was Denis Sciama, although he had hoped to get Fred Hoyle who was working in Cambridge. After gaining his Ph.D. he became first a Research Fellow and later on a Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. After leaving the Institute of Astronomy in 1973, Stephen came to the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and since 1979, has held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. The chair was founded in 1663 with money left in the will of the Reverend Henry Lucas who had been the Member of Parliament for the University. It was first held by Isaac Barrow and then in 1669 by Isaac Newton.
Stephen Hawking has worked on the basic laws which govern the universe. With Roger Penrose he showed that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. These results indicated that it was necessary to unify General Relativity with Quantum Theory, the other great Scientific development of the first half of the 20th Century. One consequence of such a unification that he discovered was that black holes should not be completely black, but rather should emit radiation and eventually evaporate and disappear. Another conjecture is that the universe has no edge or boundary in imaginary time. This would imply that the way the universe began was completely determined by the laws of science.
His many publications include The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime with G F R Ellis, General Relativity: An Einstein Centenary Survey, with W Israel, and 300 Years of Gravity, with W Israel. Stephen Hawking has three popular books published; his best seller A Brief History of Time, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, and most recently in 2001, The Universe in a Nutshell. There are .pdf and .ps versions of his full publication list.
Professor Hawking has twelve honorary degrees. He was awarded the CBE in 1982, and was made a Companion of Honour in 1989. He is the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes, is a Fellow of The Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Stephen Hawking continues to combine family life (he has three children and one grandchild), and his research into theoretical physics together with an extensive programme of travel and public lectures.
SOURCE: STEPHEN HAWKINGÃ‚Â´S HOMEPAGE(http://www.hawking.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44&Itemid=54)
Stephen William Hawking PhD, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA (born 8 January 1942) is a British theoretical physicist. Hawking is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge (but intends to retire from this post in 2009), a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and the distinguished research chair at Waterloo's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. He is known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes, and his popular works in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general. These include the runaway popular science bestseller A Brief History of Time, which stayed on the British Sunday Times bestseller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
His key scientific works to date have included providing, with Roger Penrose, theorems regarding singularities in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation, which is today known as Hawking radiation, or sometimes as Bekenstein-Hawking radiation. His scientific career spans over 40 years and his books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity and world-renowned theoretical physicist. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Science. Hawking has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The condition has progressed over the years and he is now almost completely paralysed.
Stephen Hawking was born to Dr. Frank Hawking, a research biologist, and Isobel Hawking, a political activist.. He had two younger sisters, Philippa and Mary and an adopted brother, Edward. Though Hawkings parents were living in North London, they moved to Oxford while Isobel was pregnant with Stephen, desiring a safer location for the birth of their first child (London was under attack at the time by the Luftwaffe). According to one of Hawking's publications, a German Wehrmacht V-2 missile struck only a few streets away.
After Hawking was born, the family moved back to London, where his father headed the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research.
In 1950, Hawking and his family moved to St Albans in Hertfordshire where he attended St Albans High School for Girls from 1950 to 1953. (At that time, boys could attend the Girls school until the age of 10.) From the age of 11, he attended St Albans School, where he was a good, but not an exceptional, student. When asked later to name a teacher who had inspired him, Hawking named his Mathematics teacher, "Mr Tahta". He maintains his connection with the school, giving his name to one of the four houses and to an extracurricular science lecture series. He has visited to deliver one of the lectures and has also granted a lengthy interview to pupils working on the school magazine, The Albanian.
Hawking was always interested in science. He enrolled at University College, Oxford with the intent of studying mathematics although his father preferred he go into medicine. Since mathematics was not offered at University College, Hawking instead chose physics. His interests during this time were in thermodynamics, relativity, and quantum mechanics. His physics tutor, Robert Berman, later said in the New York Times Magazine:
It was only necessary for him to know that something could be done, and he could do it without looking to see how other people did it. ... He didnÃ‚Â´t have very many books, and he didnÃ‚Â´t take notes. Of course, his mind was completely different from all of his contemporaries.
Hawking was passing with his fellow students, but his unimpressive study habits gave him a final examination score on the borderline between first and second class honours, making an "oral examination" necessary. Berman said of the oral examination:
And of course the examiners then were intelligent enough to realize they were talking to someone far more clever than most of themselves.
After receiving his B.A. degree at Oxford University in 1962, he stayed to study astronomy. He decided to leave when he found that studying sunspots, which was all the observatory was equipped for, did not appeal to him and that he was more interested in theory than in observation. He left Oxford for Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he engaged in the study of theoretical astronomy and cosmology.
Almost as soon as he arrived at Cambridge, he started developing symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (known colloquially in the USA as Lou Gehrigs disease), a type of motor neuron disease which would cost him almost all neuromuscular control. During his first two years at Cambridge, he did not distinguish himself, but, after the disease had stabilized and with the help of his doctoral tutor, Dennis William Sciama, he returned to working on his Ph.D. He revealed that he did not see much point in obtaining a doctorate if he were to die soon. Hawking later said that the real turning point was his 1965 marriage to Jane Wilde, a language student. After gaining his Ph.D., Stephen became first a Research Fellow, and later on a Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College.
Hawking was elected as one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society in 1974, was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1982, and became a Companion of Honour in 1989. Hawking is a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Jane Hawking (ne Wilde), Hawkings first wife, cared for him until 1991 when the couple separated, reportedly due to the pressures of fame and his increasing disability. They had three children: Robert (b. 1967), Lucy (b. 1969), and Timothy (b. 1979). Hawking married his nurse, Elaine Mason (who was also the previous wife of David Mason, designer of the first version of Hawkings talking computer), in 1995. In October 2006, Hawking filed for divorce from his second wife.
In 1999, Jane Hawking published a memoir, Music to Move the Stars, detailing her own long-term relationship with a family friend whom she later married. Hawkings daughter, Lucy, is a novelist. Their oldest son, Robert, emigrated to the United States, married, and has one child, George Edward Hawking. Reportedly, Hawking and his first family were reconciled in 2007.
At the celebration of his 65th birthday on 8 January 2007, Hawking announced his plans for a zero-gravity flight in 2007 to prepare for a sub-orbital spaceflight in 2009 on Virgin Galactics space service. Billionaire Richard Branson pledged to pay all expenses for the latter, costing an estimated 100,000. Stephen Hawkings zero-gravity flight in a "Vomit Comet" of Zero Gravity Corporation, during which he experienced weightlessness eight times, took place on 26 April 2007.
He became the first quadriplegic to float in zero-gravity. This was the first time in 40 years that he moved freely, without his wheelchair. The fee is normally US$3,750 for 10-15 plunges, but Hawking was not required to pay the fee. A bit of a futurist, Hawking was quoted before the flight saying:
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 doesnt go into space. I therefore want to encourage public interest in space.
SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking)