The Early Life of Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is perhaps one of the most interesting people alive. Despite having Lou Gehrig’s disease and very little control of his voluntary muscles, he has been able to craft many brilliant theories that have advanced the field of physics and astronomy. Hawking’s early life was full of strange decisions that made him the man he is today.

Birth

Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England on January 8, 1942. The surprising thing about his birth is that it was the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death. He had three siblings and his father was also known for being involved in science. Just a few years after Hawking’s birth, his father became the head at the National Institute for Medical Research. His department was parasitology.

Early Schooling

Hawking’s father wanted him to attend the Westminster School due to its better reputation, but he was unable to pay the tuition if Hawking couldn’t get a scholarship. While Hawking planned on taking the scholarship examination, he became ill and was unable to go.

This forced him to attend the local St. Albans School. During his years at school, he received only moderate grades. He has attributed this to being bored by the easy class work.

College

He then went on to become one of the youngest students at Oxford at only 17. He went there to study physics, but his original goal was to attend a mathematics university. His father pushed for Oxford, and Hawking agreed to go. Since a mathematics program was not offered, he chose physics as an alternative.

Though many considered the class word difficult, Hawking found it easy. He would typically only study about an hour a day, and he often became bored.

Clumsiness

During his last year at Oxford, Hawking started having weird bouts of clumsiness. The doctors initially thought that he drank too much because he had slurred speech and would often stumble and fall, but the problem was much worse.

It was during this year that he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, which slowly destroyed his ability to control voluntary muscles.

Hawking is a brilliant man, but he may have never studied physics if his father didn’t push him to attend Oxford. While it’s terrible that he suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, he has since become an authority on black holes and physics in general.

hawking_600

Image Credit: 1.

About The Author