Thursday, December 07, 2006

Stephen Hawking: Exceptional Person

Stephen Hawking knew what he wanted to do by the time he was eight years old. He did not want to study medicine, a career his parents hoped he would follow. Instead, Hawking decided to be a scientist and chose physics. Stephen was interested in studying the universe. He attended Oxford University in England, as an undergraduate student. He received his Ph.D in 1966 from Cambridge University. By the time he was 35 years old, Hawking was Cambridge’s first Gravitational Physics professor and received the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics award.

Stephen Hawking has also published a book called A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. The book tries to explain many of Hawking’s physical and mathematical ideas and calculations without using math. The book became a best seller and was made into a movie.

When Stephen Hawking was 21-years-old, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also know as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This disease attacks the nerves that control a body’s voluntary movements. It affects walking, speaking, breathing, swallowing, etc. At the time of his diagnosis, the doctors gave Hawking two years to live. Hawking has defied this time frame and is still working. Today, Stephen is confined to a wheelchair, cannot move much at all, has trouble holding his head up, and cannot speak. He now uses a special computer that displays the text he types and speaks what he types with an electronic voice.

link to: Famous People with Disabilities

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