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Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking. (

Stephen Hawking may be the most famous scientist alive. And although the theoretical physicist is important because of his work in the areas of relativity, black holes and the no-boundary quantum theory of the universe, he may be even more widely recognized for his life story. In 1963, at the age of 21, he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease similar to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) from which he was not expected to live more than a few years. But although the disease has progressed to the point where he is almost completely paralyzed, he is very much with us and active at the age of 70. Not only does he continue his work in physics, but he is a sought-after lecturer, bestselling author – and pop culture icon.

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By Paul Hechinger