Stephen Hawking: the man and the human being. It is extremely difficult to see Stephen Hawking as a person with love, fear and loneliness as things he possibly suffers through. In his autobiography we learn about Stephen’s life leading up to his grand successes and beyond. As a child he loved trains, was curious how machines worked, and was not skilled with his hands when rebuilding the machines he dissected.
Professor Hawking is revered for his “genius” in the theoretical physics realm and heavily involved in cosmology. He is the Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. His most prized work explains how matter is emitted from black holes as radiation, and was a forerunner in the research into space temperature. He does not believe that time tourists are among us, unless they are microscopic: reasoning is described in detail within the biography.
Hawking’s autobiography is terse which probably is the reason for the short book. There is little unnecessary information and contains the bare bones of Stephen’s life up to present time. He describes his marriages with factual information (before this book I didn’t realize Stephen had been married, let alone TWICE
) and expressed pride in his three children. This is without doubt the most human I have ever seen Hawking, making him less of an immortal, overarching being and someone who struggled through his diagnosis with Lu Gehrig’s aka ALS, and still continues to struggle with the disease. He fills us on where he started, how he got to where he is, and the people who helped him get there. Hawking even remembers to accredit his students for their physical and theoretical aid while Stephen developed his career.
I am deeply impressed with this memoir, where it lacked warmth and was overly concise, it also developed a better picture of a man who has a sense of humour (entertaining bets with fellow scientists including a subscription of Penthouse), and a survivor. This is a man who has quietly suffered while doing great things for theoretical physics without much desire for fame or fortune. It is most fortunate that Hawking has used ALS to spur him on to develop countless theories, and is someone who can write his own life with such humility while making such a huge impact on the world.