Stephen Hawking was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author, who was born in 1942. He was diagnosed with ALS, a motor neuron disease, at the age of 21. The doctors predicted that he wouldn’t live for too long after this diagnosis. He thumbed his nose at them all and passed away yesterday, at the age of 76!
What are motor neurons? Motor neurons are nerve cells that are connect the brain to the spinal cord and the spinal cord to muscles in different parts of the body.
What is ALS? ALS is a disease where this signlling goes wonky and the muscles start to waste away. So Stephen Hawking couldn’t use his muscles. He spent most of his life in a wheelchair, and even used a device to help him to speak!
Stephen Hawking was one of the most brilliant minds this world has ever seen. His findings contributed to the explanation of the creation of the Universe, and his theories and proofs created huge jumps in the way in which even, we, as lay people, see and understand our world and space.
He wrote a book called ‘A Brief History of Time’, to explain his theories to you teenagers and us grown ups. He even wrote books to help younger children explore and understand physics.
Here’s a little on his books to tickle your fancy!
Stephen and his daughter, Lucy Hawking, wrote a series of books about a boy named George. The first in the series is called George’s Secret Key to the Universe. It is a great mix of fact and fiction, and includes colour pics and illustrations from the NASA and Hubble photo library.
Who is George? George is a kid who has some very interesting neighbours and they have a super computer called Cosmos that can enable time travel! George goes off on adventure after adventure while decoding the basics of astrophysics and the cosmos for young readers.
There are five books in the series:
- George’s Secret Key to the Universe
- George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt
- George and the Big Bang
- George and the Unbreakable Code
- George and the Blue Moon
These books are perfect for 9+ yr olds, but are really worth reading even if you are older. And then once you are done , maybe it’s time to take a crack at reading A Brief History of Time!