Stephen William Hawking was born 300 years after the death of Galileo (January 8, 1942)in Oxford, England. At the age of 8, his family moved with him to St Albans, where he began to attend St Albans School three years later. He eventually attended University College, Oxford, his father's alma mater. While his father wanted him to study medicine he preferred mathematics. Neither got their wish as mathematics was not available at University College, so he studied physics instead.
After being awarded a first class honors degree in Natural Science, he moved on to Cambridge to do research in Cosmology, eventually earning a Ph.D. In 1979, he was given the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, which was once held by Sir Isaac Newton.
Dr. Hawking is well known for three popular books he has published; his best seller "A Brief History of Time," "Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays" and "The Universe in a Nutshell." He is perhaps most famous because he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as ALS or "Lou Gehrig's Disease." This disease, which is fatal, keeps him in a wheelchair and affects his speech. Today, he communicates with a computer and voice synthesizer. Dr. Hawking says, "The only trouble is that it gives me an American accent."
In March of 2007, we learned of plans for Stephen Hawking To Go Weightless in April. Zero Gravity Corporation's zero-gravity airplane, flying out of NASA's Kennedy Space Center would allow the renowned British physicist to have the astronaut experience, perhaps as a first step towards allowing him to fly into space.
In a statement released by Zero Gravity, Hawking said, "As someone who has studied gravity and black holes all of my life, I am excited to experience, firsthand, weightlessness and a zero-gravity environment."
In April of 2007, that experience occurred (seeStephen Hawking Experiences Freedom of Weightlessness). Calling the experience "amazing," Professor Stephen Hawking told a group of reporters about his ride aboard 90-minute flight aboard G-FORCE ONE, a specially-modified, 35-passenger Boeing 727-200.
After the flight, Hawking used his famous speech computer to share his experiences. "The zero-G part was wonderful, and the high-G part was no problem. I could have gone on and on."
"Space, here I come."