Necrology: Stephen Hawking did groundbreaking research into black holes, but also provoked with alternative theories and his attitude towards aliens.
He could only move his eyes and one muscle in his cheek. But in his head he roamed the universe, dived into black holes and traveled back to the big bang.
Now Stephen Hawking is no longer there.
On Wednesday morning the famous mathematician and physicist died at home in the English town of Cambridge. He turned 76 years old.
Hawking only studied for an hour a day
Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford on January 8, 1942 and was the eldest of four children.© All Over
After a number of mediocre years at a boys' school, he went to Oxford University at the age of 17.
Here the young Hawking proved to be so skilled in mathematics and physics that he rarely opened a book or took notes. And he says he only studied for an hour a day.
There was only one thing that interested him: astronomy. And especially the great demand for the origin of the universe.
Doctors gave Hawking two more years
After studying in Oxford, Hawking moved to Cambridge to do research.
But before he got to work, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1963.
This disease breaks down the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord and the cerebral cortex, so that someone can no longer walk, talk, eat or breathe.
The doctors gave Hawking two more years.© Wikimedia Commons
Contrary to expectations, the Hawking situation stabilized, and in 1965 he married Jane Wilde, with whom he had three children - before he ended up in a wheelchair in 1969.
One word per minute
After an operation on his airways in 1985, Stephen Hawking lost his speech forever.
The first year he communicated by raising his eyebrows and choosing a word.
In 1986, however, he got access to the computer program Equalizer, with which he could choose sentences and words from a list with the push of a button. That way he could produce 15 words per minute.
From 2005 Hawking could no longer move his hand, after which he controlled the computer with a muscle in his cheek. That reduced the number of words to one per minute.
Black holes have an internal structure
Stephen Hawking was able to publish many books and scientific papers on topics such as string theory and quantum mechanics.
He is best known for his research into black holes.
Hawking showed that black holes emit radiation (so-called hawking radiation) and that particles can thereby escape its enormous gravity. In short, the discovery meant that black holes have an internal structure.
Together with his colleague Roger Penrose, Hawking also proved that singularities can exist in black holes and he contributed to the formulation of the laws on the mechanics of black holes.
Aliens are dangerous
Hawking has repeatedly come up with surprising statements in recent years.© Lwp Kommunikáció, FLICKR
For example, he said in 2010 that there are no doubt lives in other places in the universe, but that we should not contact them because the aliens will harm us.
He stated last year that the earth will be uninhabitable in 100 years because we will have used up all natural resources or been hit by a meteor. That is why we have to prepare an emergency plan.
The time will tell if he was right.
Anyway, the world is an excellent poorer scientist. One who, despite great physical limitations, has received many scientific awards, visited all continents and made the universe more transparent to millions of people.