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.]