Skip to main content

The Most Famous Astronomers of All Time

Stephen Hawking

ZERO-G

Stephen Hawking (b. 1942) of Oxford, England, is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, considered one of the greatest scientific minds since Einstein. Although motor neurone disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) hobbled him since the age of 20, Hawking completed his doctorate in cosmology at Cambridge.

Hawking's primary discovery stated that since the universe began (at the Big Bang), it must come to an end. Hawking demonstrated (with Roger Penrose) that since Einstein’s general theory of relativity suggested that space and time began at the birth of the universe, and ends within black holes. This results unites general relativity and quantum theory. Further, Hawking predicted that black holes do emit radiation, called Hawking radiation.

Hawking wrote about these and other discoveries in several books, including the best-seller A Brief History of Time. His wheelchair-bound appearance and his speech-synthesized voice (he is now completely paralyzed) are familiar to the public from appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons, Futurama, and The Big Bang Theory. [Read more about Hawking.]

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Tom Chao
Tom Chao has contributed to SPACE.com as a producer and writer since 2000. As a writer and editor, he has worked for the Voyager Company, Time Inc. New Media, HarperCollins and Worth Publishers. He has a bachelor’s degree in Cinema Production from the University of Southern California, and a master’s degree from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Tom on Google+.