Stephen Hawking 70th Birthday – British scientist Stephen Hawking celebrated his 70th birthday Sunday, an age many experts never expected the motor neurone disease sufferer to reach. When he was diagnosed with the debilitating condition aged 21, doctors told him that he only had a few years to live.
But despite spending most of his life in a wheelchair and able to speak only through a computer, the theoretical physicist’s quest for the secrets of the universe has made him arguably the most famous scientist in the world.
“I’m sure my disability has a bearing on why I’m well known,” he once said. “People are fascinated by the contrast between my very limited physical powers, and the vast nature of the universe I deal with.”
To mark his birthday, Hawking was to make a speech to friends and colleagues and host a symposium on “the state of the universe” at Cambridge University, where he has worked for decades.
Much of his work has centred on bringing together relativity (the nature of space and time) and quantum theory (how the smallest particles in the universe behave) to explain the creation of the universe and how it is governed.
In 1974, aged just 32, Hawking became one of the youngest fellows of Britain’s prestigious Royal Society. Five years later he became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a post once held by Isaac Newton.
His fame moved beyond academia in 1988 with the publication of his book “A Brief History of Time”, which explained the nature of the universe to non-scientists, and sold millions of copies worldwide.
Hawking’s stardom was later cemented in cameos in “Star Trek” and “The Simpsons”, where he tells the rotund Homer Simpson that he likes his theory of a “doughnut-shaped universe”, and may have to steal it.
As Hawking’s age advances, he could be at risk of losing his famous computerized voice due to the gradual loss of muscle control in his cheek, his personal assistant said ahead of his birthday.