Stephen Hawking: The Man Who Faced Adversity with Science

Stephen Hawking: The Man Who Faced Adversity with Science

Nano Magazine pays tribute to a man of science, Professor Stephen Hawking.

Stephen Hawking was not only a role model and an inspiration for people who face adversity, but also for many people who are now scientists. He has done more to popularise science than anyone, but aside from this, he has given hope to those who also face adversity in everyday life. He unfortunately passed away today on the 14th March, but he has left behind a legacy that will be remembered, just like Einstein, Newton and other worthy scientists who are still remembered today.

Everybody who knows about Stephen Hawking knows that he suffered from physical disabilities –  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a rare form of motor neurone disease. But this never stopped him from pursuing his dreams, and indeed, his purpose.

Stephen Hawking was only given a couple of years to live at the age of 22. Not only did he defy the odds, he fought for science, innovation, politics and generally tried to improve the state of the world, while doing so. It is no secret that he faced issues along the way. From needing an electric chair, to not being able to speak without a voice synthesiser, Hawking still managed to popularise science to the masses and brought complex theories surrounding black holes and relativity to the general public. Without him, would people have such an interest in cosmic phenomenon and physics? I don’t think so, he had a natural ability to break down the most complex physics into the most basic concepts.

"However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at." - Stephen Hawking

Hawking’s reach was so vast that he not only made books that got the average non-scientific person to engage with science, he appeared on TV many times. I’m not just talking about documentaries, which is the main port of call for scientists, but also internationally popular programmes such as The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons. For someone who is able-bodied, this is a difficult task, never mind for someone who is physically disabled.

February 2015, Professor Stephen Hawking arrives at the 2015 BAFTA film awards ceremony in London.

February 2015, Professor Stephen Hawking arrives at the 2015 BAFTA film awards ceremony in London.

There is a lot of adversity in the world, be it health related, poverty related or otherwise. For Stephen Hawking and many others, science has been an outlet to channel their thoughts and dreams. The science field does face some issues for disadvantaged people ­– e.g. people who are less mobile are not going to be allowed to work in a chemistry laboratory. However, the beauty of science is that it is so varied, and there is something there for everyone.

His loss to this world will be huge, and a hole (just not a black hole) will be left in science with his absence. He had a truly remarkable mind, the likes of which is not often seen. Aside from his role in science, he has also given hope. Hope, that doing what you love (whether it is science or not) can be achieved despite whatever issues life throws at you. Hawking was a living embodiment of this and has done more to change public perception and raise awareness of how disability is not a barrier to doing science than anyone.

Even though he is gone, his legacy will live on in print and mind. He was known to be always smiling and have a great sense of humour, and I’m sure we will all remember him for this as well as his many scientific contributions. So, for all those breaking new ground in Nanotechnology, or other fields of science, remember out of adversity comes innovation.

Written by Liam Critchley