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“Life Is Worth Living”

About the visionary physicist Stephen Hawking (1942–2018).

Dr. Hawking enjoys zero gravity during a flight aboard a modified Boeing 727 aircraft, April 26, 2007. Photo by NASA.


Stephen Hawking delivers his speech “Why We Should Go Into Space?” during a lecture series honoring NASA’s 50th Anniversary, April 21, 2008, at George Washington University. Photo by NASA / PAUL E. ALERS.

Just after his 21st birthday, doctors diagnosed Stephen Hawking with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a degenerative disease that eats away at the nervous system. They gave him less than three years to live.

Not only did he defy those odds, extending his life by 55 years, but he also became one of the greatest theoretical physicists of our time, a leader in exploring gravity and properties of black holes.

His illness gradually left him paralyzed and unable to speak, but Dr. Hawking never allowed such circumstances to limit his potential. He used a speech-generating device to communicate; published his book A Brief History of Time, which has sold more than 10 million copies; and he visited every continent, including Antarctica. He also married twice, fathered three children and wasn’t beneath making appearances on The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory.

The British scientist, 76, passed away peacefully on March 14, 2018, at his home in Cambridge, England.

“When you are faced with the possibility of an early death,” he once recalled, “it makes you realize that life is worth living and that there are a lot of things you want to do.” Dr. Hawking undoubtedly immortalized those words.

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