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Stephen Hawking’s ‘My Brief History’- My review

My father gave me a copy of one of Stephen Hawking’s non-scientific books, ‘My Brief History’ on my birthday. I absolutely love Hawking’s work, and I look up to him for his work on theoretical physics. The reason I mentioned that this book is one of his non-scientific ones, is that this is more like an autobiography.

Hawking is a theoretical physicist, and is considered one of the greatest scientists since Einstein. He held the position of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge university, an honorable post once held by Newton. He is famous for his work on black holes. He showed that black holes aren’t as ‘eternal’ as sci-fi depicts them. He showed that black holes can decay, in the form of Hawking radiation (obviously named to honor him).

He wrote ‘The Brief History of Time’ to pay his daughter’s school fees. The book gained global fame and stayed on the Sunday Times’ bestselling list for 237 weeks. After he shot to fame, he wrote more books- Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, The Grand Design (with Leonard Mlodinow), A Briefer History of Time, etc. Apart from purely scientific books, he also wrote a series of science based story books for children, along with his daughter Lucy Hawking-‘George’s Secret Key to The Universe’ and 4 other books with similar names.

Hawking’s father was a scientist who researched tropical diseases. Most of the time, he was away in Africa, doing research. Hawking owes his interest in science to his father’s encouragement, and he mentioned this in the book. Hawking lived in post-war London, because the Germans had promised not to bomb Oxford and London, to stop England from bombing two German cities. However, a bomb landed a few blocks away from where Hawking lived, and they had to move for the house to be repaired. Hawking’s family moved to St. Albans. He mentioned in his book that his classmates called him ‘Einstein’. Hawking and his friends discussed religion, politics, science regularly, and he says that it was a really intelligent class.

Hawking went to Oxford University, and he mentions how there was so little work that he almost lost interest in the subjects he is now known for. Hawking was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis when he was 21, and he lost all motivation to finish his PhD. His doctor said that he would die before his 25th birthday. Hawking celebrated his 75th birthday on 8th January this year. Despite having to suffer with such a terrible disease, he never ceased to work on the things he loved, and today, he is regarded as one of the greatest minds of the 21st century.

I think all of us have something to take from his awe-inspiring story, regardless of whether ALL of us are into science or not. If Hawking had given up on everything when he knew his end was near, the world wouldn’t have known so much about black holes, about the universe, etc. Most of all, he inspired millions of people to pursue science, and I think we should all be thankful to him, for the world is a much better place now, because of his work.

–AMAN KP

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