Stephen Hawking: A Life Well Lived

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Random House, Nov 10, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 356 pages

In 1963 Stephen Hawking was given two years to live. Defying all the odds, he died in March 2018 at age seventy-six as the most celebrated scientist in the world. This carefully researched, and now newly updated, up-to-the-minute biography and tribute gives a rich picture of Hawking's remarkable life – his childhood, the heart-rending beginning of his struggle with motor neurone disease, his ever-increasing international fame, and his long personal battle for survival in pursuit of a scientific understanding of the universe. From more recent years, Kitty Ferguson describes his inspiring leadership at the London Paralympic Games, the release of the film The Theory of Everything, his continuing work on black holes and the origin of the universe, the discovery of ‘supertranslations’, and the astounding ‘Starshot’ program. Here also are his intense concern for the future of the Earth and his use of his celebrity to fight for environmental and humanitarian causes, and, finally, a ground-breaking paper he was working on at the time of his death, in which he took issue with some of his own earlier theories. Throughout, Ferguson summarizes and explains the cutting-edge science in which Hawking was engaged.

In March, 2018, tributes poured in from around the world and friends and strangers Hawking had inspired gathered for his funeral in Cambridge and the interment of his ashes in Westminster Abbey. Ferguson offers vivid first-hand descriptions of both these occasions and, in an amazing and revealing tribute, assesses Hawking’s legacy in and out of science.

 

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Contents

The quest for a Theory of Everything
The realization that I had an incurable disease
42
There is a singularity in our past
76
These people must think we are used to
97
Scientists usually assume there is a unique link
114
The odds against a universe that has produced
131
In all my travels I have not managed to fall
148
19902000
189
both Armageddon and a new Dark Age
239
It seems clear to me
252
20002011
269
8 Grandad has wheels
286
direction
304
physicist cosmologist
322
Glossary
351
Bibliography
380

ls the end in sight For theoretical physics?
205
Between film roles I enjoy solving physics
220

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About the author (2011)

Kitty Ferguson was born in San Antonio, Texas. She studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and was for many years a successful professional musician, conducting and performing oratorio, early music and chamber music. In 1986 she moved to England where her husband was a Visiting Fellow and later Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. During this and many subsequent periods of residence at Cambridge, Kitty Ferguson audited graduated lectures and seminars in the Department of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics and got to know some of the legendary figures in those fields, including Stephen Hawking. In 1987 she retired from music to devote herself full time to writing about science.

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