Stephen William Hawking (born 8 January 1942) is a British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. Among his significant scientific works have been a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularities theorems in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set forth a cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a vocal supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.
He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009.
Hawking has achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his A Brief History of Time stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Hawking has a motor neuron disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition that has progressed over the years. He is almost entirely paralysed and communicates through a speech generating device. He married twice and has three children.
Timeline of his recent discoveries
1966 - Completes doctorate and is awarded fellowship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He works on singularities in the theory of general relativity and applies ideas to the study of black holes.
1968 - Publishes Large Scale Structure of Space-Time
1970 - Discovers that by using quantum theory and general relativity he is able to show that black holes can emit radiation.
1973 - In the same year he joins the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics at Cambridge, he discovers that black holes could leak energy and particles into space, and could even explode. It is published in the journal Nature, a year later. The theory is known as Hawking radiation.
1976 - Calculates that once a black hole forms, it radiates energy and starts losing mass. The radiation gives no information about matter inside the black hole and once the hole disappears, all the information goes with it.
1988 - Publishes A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. The book is a worldwide best seller
1993 - Publishes Black Holes and Baby Universes, and other Essays, a collection of scientific articles exploring ways in which the universe may be governed.
1998 - Publishes Stephen Hawking's Universe: The Cosmos Explained, a book about the basis of existence.
2001 - Publishes Universe in a Nutshell in the UK, a book explaining to a general audience recent breakthroughs in physics.
2002 - Publishes The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe, a book presenting the most complex theories of physics past and present
2004 - Announces he has solved the Black Hole paradox. In doing so, he concedes that he lost a bet that he an Caltech theorist Kip Thorne had made with John Preskill, also of Caltech, about black holes.
After nearly 30 years of arguing black holes destroy everything that falls into it, he admits that they may allow information within them to escape.