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In 1963 Stephen Hawking was given two years to live. Defying all the odds, he died in March 2018 at age seventy-six as the most celebrated scientist in the world. This carefully researched and updated biography and tribute gives a rich picture of Hawking's remarkable life - his childhood, the heart-rending beginning of his struggle with motor neurone disease, his ever-increasing international fame, and his long personal battle for survival in pursuit of a scientific understanding of the universe.
From more recent years, Kitty Ferguson describes his inspiring leadership at the London Paralympic Games, the release of the film The Theory of Everything, his continuing work on black holes and the origin of the universe, the discovery of 'supertranslations', and the astounding 'Starshot' program. Here also are his intense concern for the future of the Earth and his use of his celebrity to fight for environmental and humanitarian causes, and, finally, a ground-breaking paper he was working on at the time of his death, in which he took issue with some of his own earlier theories. Throughout, Ferguson summarizes and explains the cutting-edge science in which Hawking was engaged and offers vivid first-hand descriptions of his funeral in Cambridge and the interment of his ashes in Westminster Abbey.
This is an amazing and revealing tribute, assessing Hawking's legacy in and out of science.
Ferguson replaces the iconic but static image of cosmologist Hawking with flesh and blood in this vivid portrait. This is familiar terrain for Ferguson, who built such good rapport with Hawking while researching her book Stephen Hawking: A Quest for a Theory of Everything some 20 years ago, that he asked her to consult on his own book, The Universe in a Nutshell. Hawking grew from a "rather lazy" student to a pioneering cosmologist in an era when the field was regarded as little more than a pseudoscience. Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) early in graduate school, he defeated the odds and will soon celebrate his 70th birthday. Through interviews with Hawking and his colleagues, friends, and family, Ferguson builds a complete picture of Hawking's life, from his tireless work to explain our universe to his notorious driving, playful appearances on Star Trek, The Simpsons, and other shows, campaigning to improve the lives of the disabled, and his family life, with special attention to his relationship with his first wife, Jane, whose sacrifices allowed him to focus on his work. In the end, Ferguson captures the very full life and work of one of the most vibrant minds of our time.