Professor Stephen Hawking certainly has ticked every box possible, thanks to his illustrious career, which has spanned over five decades. When Hawking’s name is mentioned, the first thing that springs to mind about him is the world-renowned “A Brief History of Time”, which appeared in the Sunday Times bestsellers’ list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Or perhaps it is the fact that he has made many important contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity or his extensive knowledge of black holes. It is clear, however, that he is a man of many talents. But as you much you may know about Hawking, there is so much more that you don’t.
You wouldn’t think so, but Mr. Hawking was not a straight A student. In fact, it has been widely reported that on several occasions, his grades were so low that he ended up ranking at the bottom of his class. Despite this initial setback, Hawking persevered and ended up winning a scholarship to Oxford University.
Speaking of Oxford, before Hawking’s health started to decline, he was a coxswain on the rowing team and was known as the “adventurous” type by his fellow teammates. Rowing is considered a centuries-old Oxford tradition, so it is no surprise that Hawking, who wanted to embrace all aspects of University life, took up rowing a great way to achieve this.
Did you know that Hawking appeared in an episode of Star Trek? Specifically, he played a poker game with Data, Einstein, and Newton on the Starship Enterprise on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mr. Hawking is also the only person ever to play himself in an episode of any Trek series. In the opening of the episode, he is seen taking part in a poker game on the holodeck to demonstrate how three of the world’s greatest minds would respond to each other. If it’s good enough for the likes of Hawking, Newton, and Einstein, then why not try a game of skill yourself? Don’t forget to research the fundamentals though, and while you’re at it, learn the lingo, too.
In addition to poker, Professor Hawking is also known to make an odd wager or two; unlike us ordinary folk who may place a wager on who will win X Factor or who will be Christmas Number 1. In fact, Hawking once made a public wager with theoretical physicist John Preskill about the outcome of the black hole information paradox back in 1997. However, in 2004, Professor Hawking conceded the wager and concluded that “black hole horizons should fluctuate and leak information”.
Hawking is known for his renowned tome “A Brief History of Time”, but did you know that he has also written a fictional book for earlier readers, too? That’s right, Hawking co-wrote George’s Secret Key to the Universe.
The professor has also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs where he picked his favorite and most meaningful tracks, which included Puccini, Mozart, Edith Piaf, and The Beatles (his track de jour? Please Please Me — a cracking choice, we are sure you will agree!).
What is your favorite Stephen Hawking fact? Did any in the list surprise you? Though there are so many interesting ones to choose from, it is undeniable that each fact represents a much-celebrated man who has dedicated his life to science, which has had a significant impact on how we all perceive the world on countless levels.
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