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33 Years After Doctors Wanted To Turn His Life Support Off Stephen Hawking Turned 76

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The human spirit is capable of achieving amazing feats. There are many examples of people with such strong will and determination that they were able to overcome anything and rise above all kinds of misery, tragedy, and/or disability. One of the most inspiring people who have done this, once said: “If there is life, there is hope”.

Yes, those are the words of Stephen Hawking, one the greatest minds ever born. He is a living legend, a science genius, and a true inspiration for all of mankind.

Hawking’s brilliant mind cannot simply be limited in one science directory. He is able to combine science and philosophy in a truly unique way. Above all, he is the most renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologists in the world, and he also happens to be one of the bestselling authors in the field. Hawking is also University of Camrbidge’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology Research Director. The scientist has worked on many projects, including theorems on gravitational singularity embedded in general relativity’s framework. He has studied his own theory about the assumption that radiation is emitted by black holes. Relying on the general relativity theory and the quantum mechanics principles, Hawking was the first scientist to attempt to build a cosmology theory, thus trying to explain the correlation between space and time and figure out how our reality was created. He believes in one quantum mechanics interpretation that suggests there are many worlds in existence.

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As an author, Hawking wrote one of the most popular science books ever published; entitled A Brief History of Time, it was released in 1988. The book is about his study of our universe, and the way it was structured made it easy for many people to picture the cosmos and understand the main objectives. The book was a total success and has sold more than ten million copies. It has been translated into couple of dozen languages worldwide. The book was a part of Sunday Times’ bestseller list for 237 weeks!

But you probably do not know that it was close to be never written.

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Hawking’s disability is known as ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a very difficult condition to treat. He was diagnosed with ALS in a very early stage of his life—the genius was only a 21-year old Oxford student. The disease affects his motor neurons and spreads gradually over the whole body in time. Paralysis eventually settled in; at one point, he was unable to talk and walk without assistance. Upon receiving the diagnosis, he was told that he had no more than two years to live.

He decided that this grim prognosis would not stop him from continuing to live his life, and he would not let his condition affect his dreams or his work. Hawking’s wife, Jane, once said that people wondered if he was doing it because of determination or obstinacy, but she believed that is was actually both—at different periods of time, one followed the other. His physical abilities were slowly fading away, but things got worse fast when he got pneumonia while in Switzerland for a visit to CERN. He got so sick that doctors were forced to ask his wife if they should disable his life support systems.

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She did not give up on him, but the only way they could save him was to perform a tracheotomy. The procedure consists of creating an opening on the neck in order for air to be able to escape out without using the mouth or the nose. This is the reason why later Hawking acquired what might be considered his most unique characteristic— his computerized voice.
For a while he used to communicate via a spelling card, but about a year after the operation, he got to use the “Equalizer” software designed by Walter Woltosz, who created the technology for his mother-in-law, who also suffered from ALS.

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Years passed, and Hawking gradually lost the control of moving his limbs. In 2009, it got to the point that he could no longer operate his wheelchair.

Those limitations did not stop him from writing six more books after his debut one. Hawking also became the co-author of five other books and produced four kids’ books in cooperation with his daughter Lucy. The scientist has also appeared in more than a dozen TV productions and films.

We absolutely have to mention his long list of awards and recognitions. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, and he is also acknowledged as a permanent member of Political Academy of Sciences. He has the honor to be the 25st amongst the 100 Greatest Britons according to a BBC poll.

Stephen Hawking has given countless speeches and also attended a lot of meetings, thereby allowing many people to personally benefit from his wisdom and knowledge.

We think that it has been a remarkable life for someone who was told that will not live to see his 23rd birthday.
Happy birthday, Professor Hawking!

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Written by Patrick Bennet

I have been working as a teacher my whole life. I love reading books.

I love writing about all kind of different and interesting facts. It's not only exciting, but I learn something new every day. What I learn I share it with you guys. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

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