Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works included a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Hawking was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009 and achieved commercial success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general. His book, A Brief History of Time, appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Hawking had a rare early-onset slow-progressing form of motor neurone disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Lou Gehrig's disease), that gradually paralysed him over the decades. Even after the loss of his speech, he was still able to communicate through a speech-generating device, initially through use of a hand-held switch, and eventually by using a single cheek muscle. Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 in Oxford to Frank (1905–1986) and Isobel Hawking (née Walker; 1915–2013). Despite their families' financial constraints, both parents attended the University of Oxford, where Frank read medicine and Isobel read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. The two met shortly after the beginning of the Second World War at a medical research institute where Isobel was working as a secretary and Frank was working as a medical researcher. They lived in Highgate; but, as London was being bombed in those years, Isobel went to Oxford to give birth in greater safety. Hawking had two younger sisters, Philippa and Mary, and an adopted brother, Edward. In 1950, when Hawking's father became head of the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research, Hawking and his family moved to St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Revolutionary scientist, physicist and author Stephen Hawking, who spent most of his lifetime chained to a wheelchair because of a degenerative neuromuscular disease, died at the age of 76 in the early hours of Wednesday in Cambridge, England, a spokesman for his family confirmed. Professor Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement that Hawking died at his home in Cambridge peacefully, surrounded by his family. They said: "We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years." "His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world.
The University of Cambridge professor was an iconic figure in both the scientific community and in popular culture, known for his keen mind and humor, as well as his striking physical challenges. Dr. Hawking had long battled with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which left him wheelchair-bound for most of his life. Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease or motor neuron disease, the condition damages the nerves that control movement and results in paralysis. Patients with ALS typically die within five years of diagnosis. Dr. Hawking, who was diagnosed in 1963 at the age of 21, is believed to have been the longest-living survivor, a fact that still perplexes neurologists.
The latest report from the Office of National Statistics reveals that over 61,000 people died of dementia last year, making the chronic mental disorder the leading cause of death in England and Wales. Given the new statistics, dementia -- including Alzheimer's disease -- has now surpassed heart disease as the common cause of death in the ageing population. The new report also indicates that dementia accounts for 11.6 percent of recorded deaths in 2015, and this is due to the fact that people now live longer, making them more prone to develop diseases aside from ischemic heart diseases, which now account for 11.5 percent of registered deaths. Comparing the data collected from male and female deaths registered in 2015, heart disease remains to be the leading cause of death among men though the percentage has dropped from 14.8 percent in 2014 to 14.3 percent in 2015. On the other hand, dementia and Alzheimer's now account for 15.2 percent of deaths among women -- a big jump from the 13.4 percentage documented a year before.
As figures show dementia has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, Susie Hewer recounts the "surreal" and "distressing" way the condition affected the last eight years of her mother's life. Peggy Walton was 81 when she was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 1997. The condition, the UK's second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer's disease, is caused by problems affecting the supply of blood to the brain. Recounting the experience, Mrs Hewer, 59, said her mother "was as bright as a button and very fit and active when she first came to live with us, so it was a complete shock when she had a series of mini strokes. "When we first went to the doctor he said, 'It's just old age catching up with her - senile dementia.'