Professor Stephen Hawking was a revolutionary cosmologist and theoretical physicist who dedicated his research and life to contemplating the future of mankind and our place in the universe. On Feb 27th, 2017, Governor Michael Dukakis, Co-founder and Chairman of Global Citizenship Education Network (GCEN) honored Professor Stephen Hawking as a Distinguished Global Citizenship Educator.
Among the many topics Hawking devoted his time to were artificial intelligence, extraterrestrial life, and black holes. His work revolutionized the way astronomers thought about black holes – especially his groundbreaking concepts of ‘event horizons,’ where light escapes black holes, and Hawking radiation. Professor Hawking also frequently warned about the existential threats of hostile alien life and uncontrolled A.I., although he also maintained a sense of optimism that new technology can improve society.
His educational career included serving as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University and a professorship as Caltech. Most recently, he served as Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) and Founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. Professor Hawking received his PhD in Cosmology at Cambridge and received thirteen honorary degrees through his career.
Professor Hawking won a number of prestigious awards for his research, including the Albert Einstein Medal, Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Fonseca Prize, Copley Medal, and Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was elected one of the Royal Society’s youngest fellows in 1974 and was titled a Commander of the British Empire in 1982.
His many publications include A Brief History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, My Brief History, and more. He also produced and starred in several documentary TV series on cosmology and astrophysics, including Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking also maintained a notable sense of humor and was prolific in pop culture, appearing in movies and TV shows like The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory.
At age 21, Professor Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, that gradually paralyzed him and left him dependent on a motorized wheelchair and a speech-generating computer. Tragically, Professor Hawking passed away on March 14, 2018 due to complications with ALS.