Dr. Stephen William Hawking, British mathematician, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist, is the face of twenty-first century physics, and yet cannot speak directly to his audience. He is no longer able to move his limbs due to the incapacitating effects of ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The affliction is better known in the United States as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," named after the great American baseball player. Since 2009, in fact, Hawking can no longer operate his wheelchair.
His desperate struggle to stay connected comes at a time in which the amassing of Hawking's theories, developed over the past half-century, seems poised to discover and affirm new solutions to the mysteries of the universe. Occupying a unique place in the history of physics, Hawking, more than Newton or Einstein, lives in the perfect era from which to stand at the threshold of new possibilities for balancing and synchronizing the theories of General Relativity, put forth by his great predecessors, and the newer field of the quantum world, hinted at in the mid-twentieth century but only more recently brought forward by leading proponents. He has devoted the lion's share of his adult life to "probing the space-time described by general relativity and the singularities where it breaks down," and is, in advancing years, more driven than ever by the urge to uncover all he can about the nature of the larger universe.
Stephen Hawking: The Life of the World's Most Famous Scientist examines the life and career of the English physicist.