Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.
Sumera B Reshi
The shimmering star in the firmament of science, whose vision and understanding has shaped modern cosmology and inspired millions of people across the globe, died on 14th March 2018 at 76. Professor Stephen William Hawking was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work will keep inspiring people of all ages. Despite being disabled, his proved he is more than ordinary.
Professor Hawking arrived at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge to pursue research in cosmology in October 1962. In the year 1965, he completed his PhD on ‘Properties of Expanding Universe’, under the supervision of cosmologist Denis Sciama. But his first major breakthrough came in 1970 when he and his colleague Roger Penrose applied the mathematics of black holes to the universe and showed that a peculiarity, a region of infinite curvature in space-time, lay in our distant past. Professor Hawking was the first physicist who explained the behaviour of black holes and even examined the origin of the universe. It would be right to call him the genius of the modern age.
Professor Hawking is a genius who brought together several different but equally fundamental fields of physical theory – gravitational, cosmology, quantum theory, thermodynamics and information theory. Professor Hawking was keen to find something new in the universe. During his undergraduate years in 1959 at the University of Oxford, he started taking interest in cosmology. Hawking along with Roger Penrose in the UK and Yakov Zel’dovich in the Erstwhile Soviet Union worked on the concept of black holes. Professor Hawking was more engrossed in general relativity and black holes.
Further, while Professor Hawking was completely into his research, he was diagnosed with a form of motor neurone disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The disease left him almost entirely paralyzed. The impact of the disease was severe and day to day activities was an uphill task, yet Professor Hawking kept working on his favorite subject. His disability was never an excuse.
Constantly, Hawking began working on the Big Bang theory. This he did under the supervision of his guide Sciama. According to Big Bang theory, the universe began as a tiny speck that subsequently expanded. Today this theory has worldwide acceptance. To us all, big bang held the mystery of the origin of the universe but to Professor Hawking, Big Bang was rather like the collapse of a black hole in reverse.
Tirelessly Professor Hawking worked on the mysteries of the universe. His untiring research showed that a black hole can only increase, never decrease in size. Moreover, anything that gets close can escape, thus a black hole can only ever swallow more matter and gain mass. A black hole’s mass, in turn, determines its size, measured as the radius of the event horizon, the point beyond which nothing can escape. This boundary will sneak inevitably outwards like the skin of an inflating balloon.
Since this was what interested Professor Hawking, he wanted to know more about black holes and the mystery it holds. Hawking research showed that a black hole can never be split into smaller ones even through the collision of two black holes. However, later on, he proved his own theory wrong. He kept on find more about black holes and then he showed that black holes can get smaller after all.
Furthermore, he delineated a theory called Hawking radiation and published the finding in a paper in Nature in 1974. Although his theory at that time was shocking and controversial, nonetheless, most physicists today back Hawking theory and believe that Hawking radiation, in reality, will be generated by black holes.
Professor Hawking was born on 8th January 1942 in Oxford, England. His parents’ house was in north London. When he was eight his family moved to St. Albans, a town about 20 miles north of London. At the age of 11, Stephen went to St. Albans School and then on to University College, Oxford (1952).
His work includes – The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime with G F R Ellis, General Relativity: An Einstein Centenary Survey with W Israel and 300 Years of Gravitation with W Israel. However, his popular books include the bestseller A Brief History of Time, Black Holes and Baby Universes.
Alas! This genius is no more with us today. He left alone but he gave so much to this world especially the world of science. Adieu, Professor Stephen Hawking Adieu! You will be remembered all the people until the next Big Bang.