Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking: Neliti Face of Science 004

Neliti's 4th Face of Science is a flawlessly brilliant mind rising above the challenges of a flawed and failing body.

Neliti Faces of Science celebrates the lives and impact of the world’s greatest scientists – those whose thinking redefined the depth of human knowledge. Every month a new scientist is chosen, a 3D model is created of their face, and their lives are celebrated on the Neliti homepage, here in the Breakthrough blog, and in the Neliti Faces of Science NFT collection.

Neliti’s 4th Face of Science is a flawlessly brilliant mind rising above the challenges of a flawed and failing body, Stephen Hawking. The world’s best-known scientist defied death for half a century and left behind for the world, a stunning legacy of knowledge and inspiration.

Rendition of Stephen Hawking by Ying Chuan Chen

If there is constancy in anything, it is that the world is eternally seeking perfection. But is that expectation pragmatic or an illusion?

Stephen Hawking, rejecting the global collective expectation of perfection, said, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist…Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”

Stephen Hawking, undeniably, is the most recognisable scientist in contemporary times. A professor and author who made science accessible to all, he engaged in trailblazing work in physics and cosmology. As a theoretical physicist, he founded a theory of exploding black holes, based upon the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics

His nonagenarian Nobel Laureate collaborator, Roger Penrose, once effortlessly described the famous image of Stephen Hawking “in his motorised wheelchair, with head contorted slightly to one side and hands crossed over to work the controls,” and astutely concluding that this image represented to the public imagination, “a true symbol of the triumph of mind over matter.” He goes further to draw a parallel with the Delphic oracle of ancient Greece, where physical impairment was seemingly “compensated by almost supernatural gifts, which allowed his mind to roam the universe freely, upon occasion enigmatically revealing some of its secrets hidden from ordinary mortal view.”

The making of Stephen Hawking by 3D artist Ying Chuan Chen

Birth and early years

Stephen Hawking came into this world at the height of World War II, on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England. He never tired of repeating he was born on the 300th death anniversary of famed astronomer, Galileo Galilei.

However, it was an economically difficult and politically tense time for Stephen’s parents, Frank and Isobel Hawking, as they welcomed the first of their four kids. As Isobel neared the end of her pregnancy, she and Frank decided it was unsafe to stay in Highgate, North London where terrifying nightly air raids took place. Oxford seemed a safe option, as Germany had assured it would not bomb Oxford or Cambridge.

And so, Isobel spent the final week of her pregnancy in a hotel in Oxford, trying to relax by taking strolls along the streets. While on a stroll, she walked into a bookstore and bought an astronomical atlas. She later looked back on this action and called it a “prophetic purchase” – a sign of great achievements to come, for her unborn son.

Scientific interest runs in family

The lives of Frank and Isobel Hawking, as Oxford graduates, were deeply enmeshed with scientific research. Frank was a respected medical researcher specialising in tropical diseases who spent the winter months in Africa, engaging in parasitology research. Isobel was a medical research secretary, with the distinction of having obtained a degree from Oxford in the 1930s, when few women were able to go to college in general.

For Frank, Stephen’s birth lighted the hope that the baton of a medical career could be handed over to him in due course. However, from an early age, Stephen showed a passion for science and the limitless expanse of sky. On long, hot summer evenings, Stephen and his mother sat outside in their backyard, gazing in fascination at the star-spangled skies. Isobel once said, “Stephen always had a strong sense of wonder, and I could see that the stars would draw him.” 

Besides, the Hawkings were a family of thinkers, including the two daughters Mary and Philippa, and the adopted son, Edward. With Mary coming into the world 18 months after Stephen, he later said, “I’m told I did not welcome her arrival.” Philippa was born when Stephen was 5, and he remembers her as “a very intense and perceptive child,” and he “always respected her judgment and opinions.” He has no childhood memories of Edward who was adopted when Stephen was 14. He only remembers him as being “non-academic and non-intellectual,” and, therefore, a good balance for the family.

The Hawkings were not a conventional family

Nevertheless, a close family friend commented they were an “eccentric” bunch who, at dinnertime, were silent, each reading a book while eating.

Although many people were amused by facts like an old London taxi serving as the Hawkings’ family car, by their home being a three-story fixer-upper in St Albans that was never really fixed, by bees kept in the basement, by fireworks produced in the greenhouse, and by wine made at home by Frank Hawking, there were also those who appreciated the differences in the Hawking household. Sometimes they were even astounded by it. One such person was John McClenahan, Stephen’s school friend, who remembers a conversation at lunch, focused on “subjects which were never talked about in my house – sex, homosexuality, arguments for and against abortion, and various other subjects that were quite unusual.”

When Stephen became a teenager, he said, “my parents taught me to always question things and think big.”

Schooling at St Albans

From age 11 to 17, Stephen studied at St Albans School for Boys, the oldest public school in the U.K., and one of the oldest in the world. Although recognised as a bright student and known as “Einstein,” Stephen was not academically successful, initially. In fact, during his first year at St Albans, he was third from the bottom of the class.

Despite this, Stephen had a memorable time at school, using his time for pursuits outside school with close friends, such as playing board games and even creating their own games. Stephen and his friends also constructed an enormous proto-computer to solve rudimentary mathematical equations, from recycled parts of switchboard scrap. Stephen was inspired by his charismatic Armenian math teacher, Dick Tahta, who guided him in the project. Stephen fondly pronounced Tahta as the biggest inspiration of his teenage years. Moreover, Stephen acknowledged that the only math he was ever taught was while he schooled at St Albans.

Stephen’s classmate and friend, Michael Church said, “St Albans had a particularly poignant significance for Stephen: those were almost the last golden days when he could run, jump, ballroom-dance, play tennis (erratically) and lead a normally active life.”

Oxford, Cambridge and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

When he turned 17, Stephen entered University College at the University of Oxford. He had originally planned to study for a mathematical degree, however with that being unavailable at Oxford he focused on physics. Stephen always believed physics and math provided the most fundamental insights into the world.

Stephen himself admitted he did not commit much time or effort to his studies, just about an hour a day on schoolwork. Even with that, he graduated with honours in natural science in 1962. And, during his Oxford days he was a coxswain on the Oxford rowing team, controlling the stroke rate and steering rather than rowing, as he did not have an athletic build.

Stephen later recalled, “As my student days were in full swing, I was gradually becoming aware that all was not well. During my final year at Oxford, I had noticed that I was getting rather clumsy in my movements…”

The next step for Hawking, as a 21-year-old, was attending Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge for a PhD in cosmology.

It was at Cambridge that Stephen’s health issues surfaced, innocuously, at first. As he said, “I fell over once or twice for no apparent reason.” One day, in 1963, he just fell on the flagstones of Trinity Hall. Next, he fell on a train in Germany and lost his front teeth.

The third fall, when it happened, was more serious. He fell down a flight of stairs, lost consciousness, and had a temporary loss of memory. But he brushed it aside and did not see a doctor. He said, “When I look back at that fall, I didn’t realise at the time, it was a warning sign of things to come, but I recovered and soon had more pressing things on my mind.”

While at home during Christmas that year, he became increasingly unsteady on his feet and his speech slurred. The family physician sent him to a London specialist who delivered grim news. Stephen was afflicted with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), which is a motor neuron disease that inexorably paralyses and kills patients. Most ALS-afflicted people die from respiratory failure within the first three years of diagnosis. As such, Stephen was given his death sentence – two or three years to live.

New direction to life after diagnosis

The formidable diagnosis in 1963 had made Stephen keenly aware of the ticking clock. He realized he had much to achieve before bidding the world farewell. As he reflected, “Before my condition was diagnosed, I had been very bored with life. There had not seemed to be anything worth doing.”

Suddenly, that was not true anymore. Realizing he may not even live to earn his PhD., he threw himself into his work and research with all his heart. Even as the control over his body was fading, he tried his hardest to make use of every breath he took.

When is a black hole not black? Hawking’s revolutionary Black Hole Theory

In 1968, Stephen became a member of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, and engaged in deep and intensive research.

In 1970, he started focusing on the characteristics of black holes. The existence of black holes was first revealed by Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in 1915, and subsequent works of other scientists like Robert Oppenheimer, Karl Schwarzschild, and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

In 1971, Stephen proposed the Area Theorem, providing a series of fundamental insights into black hole mechanics. His theorem predicted that the total area of black holes in the universe should not decrease. This ran parallel to the second law of Thermodynamics, which stated that the entropy, or degree of disorder within an object, should never decrease.

Stephen Hawking’s research indicated black holes emit radiation in the X-ray to gamma-ray range of the spectrum. And this idea was contrary to popular belief that black holes are huge cosmic vacuum cleaners that sucked in everything in their path, including light. What Stephen showed is that black holes are not vacuums and do not create vacuums, but attract through the power of gravity.

In 1974, Stephen published his study titled “Black Hole Explosions?” in Nature, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal that publishes the finest peer-reviewed research. He stated that black holes were not as black nor did they grow infinitely, as the scientific community hitherto believed. His genius was seen in the way he married two traditionally irreconcilable worlds, general relativity, where Einstein used gravity to explain the formation and evolution of black holes, and quantum mechanics, that describes the nature of the subatomic world.

While the calculation in the thesis was hailed by scientists as the first significant landmark in the struggle to find a single theory of nature, Dennis W. Sciama, cosmologist and Stephen’s thesis adviser at Cambridge, described it as “the most beautiful paper in the history of physics.”

Through his research, Stephen presented a model of the universe founded on “Real Time” as people experience it, and on “Imaginary time” as seen in Quantum Theory, on which the world may really revolve. 

At the “Lecture in Physics and The Black Hole Initiative Inauguration,” at Harvard, on April 18,2016, Stephen Hawking said, “Like everyone else at that time [before 1974], I accepted the dictum that a black hole could not emit anything. What finally convinced me that it was a real physical process was that the outgoing particles had a spectrum that was precisely thermal.”

The radiation he discovered, was later named “Hawking Radiation,” revolutionizing scientific understanding of black holes, and turned Stephen Hawking into a celebrity. With no observations yet on Hawking Radiation as concrete evidence, it remains a theory born from a brilliant scientific mind. As Stephen himself said during a lecture in 2008, “This is a pity, because if they had, I would have got a Nobel prize.”

Meanwhile, an eminent physicist, Roger Penrose, had extensively researched the concept of black holes in 1965, and was finally awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2020, “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.” He shared the award with astrophysicists Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.” However, Stephen Hawking was already gone and would never know the recognition of black holes in science.

Early in their careers, Hawking and Penrose met in London, and had collaborated in their studies on the origins of the universe. In 1988, Hawking and Penrose were jointly awarded the Wolf Prize for Physics. British astronomer and fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, Martin Rees referred to them as, “the two individuals who have done more than anyone else since Einstein, to deepen our knowledge of gravity.”

Love, marriage and divorce

Meanwhile, love and romance were waiting with open arms for Stephen, when he met Jane Wilde, a languages’ undergraduate, at a New Year celebration in 1962. It was during their courtship in 1963, that Stephen was given the devastating ALS diagnosis. However, they threw caution to the winds and got married in 1965. They had their first child, Robert, in 1967, followed by a daughter, Lucy, in 1970 and a son, Timothy, in 1979.

However, marriage to Stephen did not turn out to be a bed of roses for Jane, who later said, “The truth was, there were four partners in our marriage. Stephen and me, motor neuron disease, and physics.”

Besides, as his sickness worsened, she was his primary caregiver.

Unfortunately, the stresses and strains of sickness and infidelity led the relationship to flounder, and after 30 years of marriage, Stephen and Jane divorced in 1995. Both remarried within two years.

However, in the intervening years, Stephen patched up the broken relationships of his original family.

The quest to help Hawking acquire and preserve his computer voice

By the mid-1970s, Stephen’s sickness had progressed to a point that he needed assistance for all daily activities except eating and getting out of bed. This led to his needing 24-hour nursing care.

Moreover, in 1985, a life-saving tracheotomy during a bout of pneumonia, permanently robbed him of his natural speaking voice.

Thereafter, for a time, he communicated by raising his eyebrows when someone pointed at the correct letter on a spelling card. This laborious way of conversing changed, when Walter and Ginger Woltosz, founders of Words Plus, donated the Equalizer communication system to Stephen, in 1986. They had created it to help their ALS-afflicted mother communicate.

The original Equalizer allowed Stephen to use his thumbs to select from about 3000 words and phrases. A speech synthesizer called the Speech Plus CallText 5010, produced a clear and well-paced speech with a crisp, American accent, which Stephen instantly liked. It was the voice of Dennis H. Klatt, pioneer of computerized speech synthesis for speech for non-expert users.

With the computer attached to his wheelchair, Stephen said, “I can communicate better now than before I lost my voice.”

However, as ALS advanced, Stephen lost the ability to control his thumbs, rendering the use of the Equalizer impossible. In 1997, Intel developed a new wheelchair and a voice control system called Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT). While accepting the technologically-advanced features of the system, Stephen refused to change the voice synthesized by the CallText5919. In 2014, when those synthesizers needed to be replaced, Stephen still wanted the CallText voice. However, Speech Plus was already out of business for two decades.

The situation also jeopardized Stephen’s ability to continue his work, and the danger was his voice would be lost forever. In desperation, Stephen’s communications staff reached out to California computer programmer, Eric Dorsey, who had developed a replacement speaking program that could be maneuvered by head or eye movement. The invention gave Stephen the opportunity to select words on a computer screen which were then passed through a speech synthesizer. Dorsey and team created a software emulation of the CallText 5010 based on a Raspberry Pi computer. It helped preserve Dennis Klatt’s synthesized voice, to give voice to Stephen Hawking’s genius.

The mission for Dorsey was personal in many ways, as he had met Stephen 30 years before, when he visited UC Berkeley on a lecture tour.

Stephen Hawking’s scientific views

On the beginning of the universe

On the topic of “What was around before the Big Bang?” he said, there was nothing around. He said by applying a Euclidean approach to quantum gravity, which replaces real time with imaginary time, the history of the universe becomes like a four-dimensional curved surface, with no boundary.

On space travel

On April 27, 2007, 65-year-old Hawking became the first person with a disability to experience weightlessness in a zero-gravity inducing flight, on a commercial airplane in Florida. In an interview moments before the flight, he said, “Many people have asked me why I am taking this flight. I am doing it for many reasons. First of all, I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space. I therefore want to encourage public interest in space.”

On the iBrain

Stephen participated in a trial of a new headband-styled device called the iBrain, in 2011. This world’s first portable brain scanner created by a team of scientists in California, is designed to “read a person’s mind,” and to facilitate medical breakthroughs, especially revolutionizing aid to people with ALS. Stephen Hawking said, “Dr. Low and his company have done some outstanding work in this field. I am participating in the hope I can offer insights and practical advice to NeuroVigil. I wish to assist in research…and offer some future hope to people diagnosed with ALS and other neurodegenerative conditions.”

On AI

Stephen Hawking joined other top scientists in speaking out about possible dangers of artificial intelligence, or AI. Inspired by the Johnny Depp movie Transcendence, the scientists called for more research on every possible ramification of AI.

Hawking reiterated this stance when speaking at a technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in November 2017. He said, “AI could develop a will of its own. The rise of AI could be the worst or the best thing that has happened for humanity.”

He suggested, “”Perhaps we should all stop for a moment and focus not only on making our AI better and more successful, but also on the benefit of humanity.”

Books authored by Stephen Hawking

Over the years, Stephen Hawking authored or co-authored a total of 15 books. Some of the noteworthy publications include:

The Large-Scale Structure of Space-Time (1973)

Hawking published his first, highly-technical book, with mathematician George F.R. Ellis. It is a treatise on the theoretical physics of space-time, intended for specialists in general relativity rather than newcomers.

A Brief History of Time (1988)

Stephen Hawking was hurled onto the limelight as a celebrity in 1988, with his internationally-acclaimed landmark volume of science writing, “A Brief History of Time.” A short, informative book masterfully written, marrying “a child’s wonder to a genius’ intellect,” transforms this into an account of cosmology for regular people, offering an overview of space and time, the existence of God and the future, in its more than 9 million copies printed globally in over 40 languages. 

The Universe in a Nutshell (2001)

Generally considered a sequel to the 1988 “A Brief History of Time,” this publication was created to update the public concerning developments since the multi-million-copy bestseller. “A Brief History of Time” wasn’t as easy to understand as some had hoped. So, in 2001, Hawking followed it up with “The Universe in a Nutshell,” which offered a more illustrated guide to cosmology’s big theories. 

A Briefer History of Time (2005)

In 2005, Hawking authored the even more accessible “A Briefer History of Time,” which further simplified the original work’s core concepts and touched upon the newest developments in the field, like string theory. 

These three books, together with Stephen’s own research and papers, articulated his personal search for science’s Holy Grail: a single unifying theory that can combine cosmology (the study of the big) with quantum mechanics (the study of the small) to explain how the universe began. 

The Grand Design (2010)

In “The Grand Design” published in September 2010, Stephen rejected the idea that God created the universe. This is an about turn to previous arguments that belief in a creator could be compatible with modern scientific theories. This book challenges Isaac Newton’s belief that the universe had to have been designed by God, simply because it could not have been born from chaos. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going,” Hawking said.

In this work, he concluded that the Big Bang was the inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, and nothing beyond that. He said, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”

Recognition and awards

  • In 1979, Hawking returned to the University of Cambridge, where he was given one of teaching’s most renowned posts, dating back to 1663 – the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.
  • Hawking has thirteen honorary degrees.
  • He was awarded CBE (1982)
  • Companion of Honour (1989)
  • The Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009) – the highest civilian honour in the U.S. from President Obama
  • University of Cambridge Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (2013)
  • The Royal Society’s Copley Medal (2006) is awarded for outstanding achievements in scientific research
  • Wolf Prize Laureate in Physics (1988)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society U.K.
  • Member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Movie and TV appearances

Stephen Hawking, an emblem of human determination and curiosity, held the allure of a rock-star scientist for movie-goers and TV audiences, thrilling them with forays into popular culture

In 1992, Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris completed ‘A Brief History of Time,’ on Stephen Hawking’s life and work, adapting his book into a film on the origins of the universe, weaving a story of graphics, interviews and archival material.

In 1993, Stephen starred in the finale of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’. season six earning the name of ‘Trekkie’ among fans. On the show, he played poker against scientists like Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton.

In 1994, Stephen’s recorded voice-over used in Pink Floyd’s song “Keep Talking.”

In 1999, Stephen first appeared on ‘The Simpsons’ with the signature yellow skin. Starring in the episode ‘They Saved Lisa’s Brain’ in Season 10, he was shown contemplating Homer’s idea of a ‘doughnut-shaped universe’.

In 2000, Stephen appeared in several episodes of ‘Futurama.’ In one episode, he loses his body, leaving only his head in a rocket-powered jar to shoot lasers from eyes to scare and stun people around him.

In 2003, he did a comedy spoof as an over-the phone comedy sketch on the “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” show, with lots of laughter from the audience.

In 2012, Hawking displayed his humor side on American television, as a guest star on a popular American sitcom about a group of young, geeky scientists, ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ He starred as himself, bringing Seldon Cooper, the theoretical physicist, known to worship Stephen, down to Earth by finding an error in his work. Audiences were thrilled.

In November 2014, ‘The Theory of Everything’ a compelling film about the life of Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde was released, starring Eddie Redmayne as Hawking. It focused on his early life, school days, his courtship and marriage, the progression of ALS and his scientific triumphs.

In 2015, in “Little Britain Comic Relief,” he did his part for the Red Nose Day, by turning into a Transformer to attack, co-starring with David Walliams and Catherine Tate.

* In May 2016, Stephen hosted and narrated Genius, a six-part TV series, enlisting volunteers to tackle scientific questions that were asked throughout history. In a statement regarding his series, he said Genius is “a project that furthers my lifelong aim to bring science to the public. It’s a fun show that tries to find out if ordinary people are smart enough to think like the greatest minds who ever lived. Being an optimist, I think they will.”

The Passing of Stephen Hawking

Stephen’s enormous zest for life and absolute determination, warded off death for half a century. He said, “I am not afraid of death., but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do.”

However, ALS, the disease he had defied for over 50 years, finally overcame his will to live. On March 14, 2018, Stephen Hawking passed away at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76 years old. It was Pi Day, the annual celebration of the mathematical sign “Pi,” and Albert Einstein’s 135th birth anniversary. 

Stephen’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement: “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 humour inspired people across the world. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

Stephen’s university college in Cambridge, Conville& Caius, which includes the Stephen Hawking building, flew its flag at half-mast.

On June 15, 2018, Stephen Hawking’s ashes were buried in a corner of Westminster Abbey that honors some of Britain’s greatest scientists, between the graves of Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton.

Remembering Stephen Hawking

With his aim of bringing science to the people of the world, Stephen Hawking endeared himself to communities across the globe.

On May 2, 2018, Stephen’s final paper, titled “A smooth exit from eternal inflation?” which he co-authored with Belgian physicist Thomas Hertog, was published in the Journal of High Energy Physics. Submitted 10 days before his death, this report disputes the idea that the universe will continue to expand.

Meanwhile, the news of his passing touched many people in his field and beyond.

Fellow theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss tweeted, “A star just went out in the cosmos. We have lost an amazing human being. Hawking fought and tamed the cosmos bravely for 76 years and taught us all something important about what it truly means to celebrate about being human.”

Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, said, “Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world”

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, said: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit.”

Eddie Redmayne who acted as Hawking, said, “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”

Theoretical physicist and professor of mathematical physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, Edward Witten said, “Everyone can learn from Professor Hawking that we should keep working and not let setbacks get in our way.” “We can really learn about pursuing our dreams. He himself was a true believer in this. ‘Be curious,’ he said, ‘and no matter how difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.’”

Clearly, the people who knew Stephen Hawking loved, admired and practically revered the human being that he was, for his many unique strengths and for and despite his flaws. His daughter Lucy often said, he was “enormously stubborn.” Indeed, his relentless drive and will to achieve despite huge physical challenges, is unmatched in the annals of history.

Stephen Hawking’s final words were compiled as a book by his family, after his passing. The book titled “Brief Answers to the Big Questions,” contains answers to the questions Hawking was asked most, during his time on this earth.

His final words in the book were, “There is no God. No one directs the universe.” It wasn’t the first time Hawking had rejected the idea of a God or higher power. And even from beyond, his words echo and re-echo for those who wish to listen.

While being the best-known scientist in the world, in addition to being an unlikely celebrity, Stephen Hawking represented a brilliant mind trapped in a disease-ridden, failing body. And through that, he was a peerless global inspiration to disabled people. He once said, “The victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants. But I think it would be a great mistake. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”

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