Stephen Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England. Stephen wanted to do Mathematics, although his father would have preferred medicine. Mathematics was not available at University College, so he did Physics instead. After three years and not very much work he was awarded a first class honours degree in Natural Science.
Stephen then went on to Cambridge to do research in Cosmology, there being no-one working in that area in Oxford at the time. After gaining his Ph.D. he became first a Research Fellow, and later on a Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. Since 1979 has held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.
Stephen Hawking worked on the basic laws which govern the universe. With Roger Penrose he showed that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. These results indicated it was necessary to unify General Relativity with Quantum Theory, the other great Scientific development of the first half of the 20th Century. One consequence of such a unification that he discovered was that black holes should not be completely black, but should emit radiation and eventually evaporate and disappear. Another conjecture is that the universe has no edge or boundary in imaginary time. This would imply that the way the universe began was completely determined by the laws of science.
Professor Hawking received twelve honorary degrees, was awarded the CBE in 1982, and was made a Companion of Honour in 1989. He was the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes and is a Fellow of The Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.