Stephen Hawking gets ready to head into space via Virgin Galactic

Stephen Hawking is heading to space courtesy Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Besides Hawking’s invaluable expertise and comments on space, his space voyage will be monitored by many scientists and will be a great opportunity to study the effects of ALS (a motor neuron disease) in zero-gravity condition.

Branson says

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group has had a great respect and admiration for Stephen Hawking. He has said the following:

“Professor Stephen Hawking is one of the people I admire most in the world, an undisputed genius who has opened our eyes to the wonders of the universe, while also happening to be a kind and delightful man. He is the only person I have given a free ticket with Virgin Galactic, and he is signed up to fly as a Future Astronaut with us if his health permits it.”

Here are some facts about the legendary Physicist:

  • Hawking suffers from a rare and slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease has paralysed him over the decades
  • He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease when he was 21, in 1963. At that time, doctors gave him a life expectancy of only two years
  • Over the years, he slowly lost the ability to write, but developed visual methods which included seeing equations in terms of geometry
  • From an early age, he was interested in how stuff worked. He has admitted that he used to disassemble clocks and radios but never knew how to put them back together
  • In the year 1966, he completed doctoral work in theoretical physics and submitted a thesis on black holes. In 1970, he discovered that black holes emit radiation
  • Hawking gradually lost the use of his hand, and in 2005, he began to control his communication device with movements of his cheek muscles
  • In 2015, Stephen Hawking helped launch Breakthrough Initiatives which was an effort to search for extra-terrestrial life and attempt to answer the question ”Are we alone?”