Zeeshan Rasool Khan
Though competent, we all live the life of dependence in one way or the other. We, the able-bodied, cannot do everything on our own; rather, we have to rely on others. If we say, we all are disabled (unable) without disabilities, it will not be wrong. However, when a person declared as disabled by physicians does what others without a disability cannot imagine and makes the entire world his/her admirer, it certainly surprises and inspires as well. One such astounding character is the recently departed legendary scientific figure, the brightest star in the firmament of science –Dr. Stephen Hawking. The great scientist, who was left wheelchair-bound by dreadful neurological disorder, explored the cosmos from a wheelchair and contributed greatly to the science of cosmology. Unlike paralyzed people who unfortunately turn burden on others, the physically paralytic and aphasic Hawking made the world of science indebted to him.
Dr. Hawking revolutionized physics with his work on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of Einstein’s general relativity and findings regarding the black hole, that is, the discovery of the Hawking Radiations. He earned titles like Einstein’s successor, ambassador of science, Master of universe and so on, while being confined to a wheelchair with the computer as his organ of speech.
Apart from scientific contributions, Stephen Hawking taught us a lot about how to live. He has set an example indicating how to defy odds to turn dreams into reality. He literally showed how to defeat disability and convert it into ability. It is noteworthy that at the age of 21, Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (Lou Gehrig Disease)-the disease that causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles, and leaves a person paralyzed. Medically, the average survival from onset of this disease to death is 2-4 yrs and doctors too gave Hawking a life expectancy of a few years. However, he outlived his prognosis by half a century (55 yrs) and did not let his disability to hamper his personal life, career, and mission. In other words, disability could not stop him from helping us all to get a robust understanding of the universe. Dr. Hawking continued to inspire his colleagues, co-workers, and associates in particular and the scientific world in general by dedicating all his energy to his work and research.
Hawking also went beyond his area of expertise and put forth his enlivening opinions and memorable words on a host of subjects like future of humanity, religion, science, philosophy, and politics.
To produce outstanding ouvres, there must be an even more outstanding theme that can come only from a mighty and beautiful mind, which Hawking haad. As a prolific writer, he authored and co-authored about 15 books on diverse subjects over the course of his life, among which, “The Brief History of Time” on cosmology became immensely popular. He also appeared in many works on popular culture and gained popularity as ‘Icon of pop culture’. He made cameos on TV shows like the Simpsons, Futurama, and Star Trek Next Generation and so on. Dr. Hawking inspired many actors, musicians, composers, and songwriters.
According to the great scientist, “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then was a bonus.” Regarding disability, he said: ‘my advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things, your disability does not prevent you doing well and do not regret the things it interferes with, do not be disabled in spirit as well as physically’. Verily, more than the divine blessing (as people consider) it was, in fact, his willpower and dedication to work, as he believed, ‘Never give up work, work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it’.
It is very difficult to write and to encompass everything about Dr. Hawking in one go. His personality, contribution, and achievements in life are so great that one can just keep on writing. Also, it is not possible to describe him in few words. However; interestingly, one of his fellow researchers summarizes his persona incisively as: ‘Hacking’s expertise was gravitation, the weakest of four fundamental forces of the universe yet he himself was a strong force’. True, D. Hawking really was such a strong force that overcame uncountable challenges and fascinated millions around the globe.
Dr. Hawking has left the world; he could not make it to the list of Nobel Prize laureates due to regulations of Nobel Committee, but his name will be there forever in the hearts and minds of masses. His edifying biography will keep on inspiring and infusing the new spirit of ‘Never give up’ in the present as well as the upcoming generation.
P.S:- Although not everyone can become like him yet he has given a hope to millions that impossible is nothing, you can achieve whatever you want, provided you have the willingness, determination, and grit.
—The author writes on current socio-political issues. He can be reached at: [email protected]