APS News

Stephen Hawking 1942-2018

Internationally renowned physicist dies at 76

March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking, perhaps second only to Albert Einstein as the world’s most well-known physicist, died on March 14 in Cambridge UK. Among his peers, he was celebrated for his work on black holes and cosmology, and he was known the world over for his public lectures and explanations of science for general audiences. His book “A Brief History of Time” sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

Hawking received his undergraduate degree in 1962 from the University of Oxford and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in 1966. Cambridge recently made his thesis, entitled “Properties of Expanding Universes,” openly available online. In the 1960s, Hawking published seminal papers on gravitational singularities, including “Occurrence of Singularities in Open Universes” in Physical Review Letters. In 1974, he showed that black holes can emit what is now known as Hawking radiation.

While carrying out his doctoral research, Hawking was diagnosed with degenerative motor neuron disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Doctors gave him only a few years to live, but the disease slowed; in later years, he worked and lectured from his wheelchair using text-to-speech synthesizers. During his career, he was an active researcher and advised 39 doctoral students. In the 1990s, Hawking began fundraising and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities.

Hawking received many accolades during his lifetime, including becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society at age 32. In 1976, he won the APS/AIP Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics. He was elected Lucasian Professor at Cambridge in 1979, the chair held by Isaac Newton. Hawking received the APS Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize in 1999, and in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama awarded Hawking the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the government. His life story was the subject of the 2014 film “The Theory of Everything.”

Free to Read Physical Review Articles

APS has made all of Stephen Hawking’s research published in the Physical Review journals free to read online.

APS Statement on Stephen Hawking

Read the statement from the APS Presidential Line on the passing of Stephen Hawking.


News Update Archive

View Archive

APS News

Read Current Issue

Recent News Update
APS Outreach at Comic-Con International 2018
The world’s only physics-focused STEM comic book series goes to the largest annual comic book convention.
2018 Fall Prize & Award Recipients
APS announces the Fall 2018 prize and award recipients in the fields of fluid dynamics and plasma physics.
APS Celebrates the First International LGBTSTEM Day
The first international LGBTSTEM Day recognizes LGBTQ+ people in science, technology, engineering, and math.
APS Designates LIGO Labs as Historic Sites
In recognition of their immense importance in unlocking the mystery of gravitational waves, the two LIGO lab locations were honored on June 20.
2018 U.S. Physics Team Prepares for Portugal
Twenty of the top high school physics students from around the nation came together to train to be a part of the U.S. team traveling to the 2018 International Physics Olympiad.
2018 Kavli Prize Winners Announced
This year’s winners of the prestigious Kavli Prize in astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience have been announced.