Stephen Hawking was born on 8 January 1942, which was the 300th death anniversary of Galileo. Though he was born to well-educated parents, the time he was born was quite difficult as his parent did not have a money-back then. Also, the Second World War was making livelihoods rather challenging, therefore, in search of a safe place, his family returned to Oxford. Stephen had three siblings and therefore he family had a scarcity of money.
His early school life was not outstanding, he was third from the bottom in his class but he enjoyed board games like geniuses do. He with his friends created their own board games. He also made computers out of the waste parts to solve mathematical questions. In addition to this, he loves climbing, dancing, and rowing. He loved mathematics but Oxford did not have the degree. And so, he had to take Physics and later went into the specifics of it, Cosmology.
Disability is in the Mind
He was 21 years old when he was diagnosed with ALS. It all started in Oxford when he began to notice that he would trip and fall or slur in his speech. Till 1963, he ignored these symptoms, but it was his father who took notice of this condition and took him to the doctor. A series of tests diagnosed that he suffered from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which caused his nerves that control muscles to fail. He was told that he would not survive for more than two years. When everyone had lost hope, Stephen had a dream that he executed, and he believed that ALS helped him become the scientist he is today.
He once stated, “before my condition was diagnosed, I had been very bored with life. There had not seemed to be anything worth doing”. With the sudden realization that he might not even live long enough to earn his Ph.D., Hawking dedicated all his energies to his work and research. In one of his interviews, he also mentioned- “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”
It all began with his research on Black holes, to his first major publication- The Grand Design. Hawking set out to challenge Sir Isaac Newton’s belief that the universe had to have been designed by God, simply because it could not have been born from chaos. He stated “it is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going” and till today.
The lesson we should learn
He did not recover from his disease and it made him physically weak in time. However, what kept him going was his willingness to work from the mind, as he says “Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.” He did not close his mind when his body failed. Hawking proved that it’s about the will to live and readiness to accept challenges. Death has to come but the life which we have between birth and death is up to us and it’s our will how we want to die. As he says- “I am not afraid of death but I am in no hurry to die.”
When a man who cannot move, or talk, can make wonders and also lead a normal family life with kids, then why do some of us lose hope and accept failures? It is right to flow in the river of sadness when the grave is not the goal? “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. If you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.” – (Stephen Hawking)
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