Monday, April 20, 2009

The Greatest Living Mind Very Ill

Stephen Hawking – quite possibly the most notable scientist currently alive – was taken to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, MA, and is “very ill” according to colleagues.

A scientist, author and television personality the 67-year-old is one of the most famous intellectuals on the planet. Best known for his book “A Brief History of Time” which explores the origins of the universe in non-scientific-speak.

Best known as a physicist, he’s also very well respected as a cosmologist, astronomer and mathematician. One of his current pet projects involves the origins of the universe, and unravelling the mystery of dark matter. For years, scientists thought space was just that – big voids of nothingness, with planets, moons, stars, asteroids, and other celestial matter speckled throughout. Turns out, all those big voids of nothing may actually be something – dark matter. It is within this new discovery that the true origins of the universe may be revealed, telling us not only how life here on Earth began, but giving us insight into whether or not it is possible that there are other planets like ours, which may have beings very much like ourselves living there.

Recognized by millions around the world by his quick-wit and his computerized voice with an American accent, the wheelchair-bound Hawking has suffered from Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS) since being diagnosed in his twenties. Although the disease is typically fatal after three-years, Hawking has led a remarkable life with the disease for over 40-years.

The disease has left him paralyzed, being able to only move a few fingers on one hand. He is completely dependent on technology or others for much of what most of us take for granted, including bathing, dressing, eating, and speaking.

Despite his dependencies, he’s made amazing strides in the scientific community, with his brilliant theories, which have ignited discussion and debate about the meaning of life. His writings have brought these complex mathematical and scientific theories to everyone, as he has often written in layman’s terms, so that anyone can reflect and wonder where we came from, and why we are here.

His appearances on television include a guest spot on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” where he wins a poker game, playing against Sir Isaac Newton and the show’s android character Lt. Cmdr. Data. He’s also been on other science fiction shows, including the BBC’s “Red Dwarf,” and FOX’s “Futurama,” and has had several cameo roles on other popular shows, including “The Simpson’s,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” and “Alien Planet.”

Hawking’s comfort with the media and ease of converting complex theories into easy-to-understand language are perhaps his greatest gifts to us all – as he’s opened up the origins of where we came from and why we are here, to everyday people like you and me.

Hawking has been married and divorced twice, has three children and one grandchild.

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