Stephen Hawking

A biography

Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England. When he was eight, his family moved to St. Albans. At the age of eleven, Stephen went to St. Albans School and then on to University College, Oxford. Stephen wanted to study Mathematics which was not available at University College, so he pursued Physics instead, and after three years he was awarded a first class honours degree in Natural Science.

A portrait of Professor Hawking in the Dining Hall of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

A portrait of Professor Hawking in the Dining Hall of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Hawking then went on to Cambridge to do research in Cosmology. 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 (DAMTP) in 1979, and held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics from 1979 until 2009. He is currently the Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, at DAMTP in Cambridge. 

With Roger Penrose, Professor Hawking 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.

A prolific author, 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 four popular books published; his best seller A Brief History of Time, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, The Universe in a Nutshell, and most recently in 2010, The Grand Design.

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. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States of America, in 2009. 

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