Stephen Hawking reveals trials, triumphs in new film of his life (Update)

September 19, 2013
Stephen Hawking appears during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games on August 29, 2012. The cosmologist has told the extraordinary tale of how he overcame severe disability to become the most famous living scientist in a new documentary film premiered in Britain.

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking tells the extraordinary tale of how he overcame severe disability to become the most famous living scientist in a new documentary film premiered in Britain on Thursday.

"This film is a personal journey through my life," the 71-year-old Briton said in the trailer to "Hawking", which he co-wrote and narrated in his distinctive, computer-generated voice.

He adds: "I have lived five decades longer than doctors predicted. I have tried to make good use of my time."

The film tells in Hawking's own words and those of his family and friends how a bright student with a fondness for partying became a pre-eminent physicist who has helped unlock the secrets of the universe, from the Big Bang to black holes.

He brought the wonders of the cosmos to millions of people through his lectures and bestselling book, "A Brief History of Time", becoming a household name who even starred in "The Simpsons".

All this was achieved despite being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease, when he was just 21, and being told he had only a few years to live.

"Although I have been successful in my work, my life has had its fair share of challenges," Hawking says.

The film goes back to Hawking's childhood and his student days before the ALS began to attack the nerves controlling his voluntary movement, confining him to a wheelchair and forcing him to speak through a machine.

It features interviews with his family, including his first wife Jane Wilde, with whom he had three children. "Falling in love gave me something to live for," Hawking says.

And it follows him as he travels around the world giving lectures about space and time, refusing to give in to the disease which has locked his mind inside his body.

"Because every day could be my last, I have the desire to make the most of each and every minute," he says.

Director Stephen Finnegan told AFP that he wanted to create an "intimate portrait" of the scientist's life.

"He's notoriously not wanted to talk about his private life, he's been very guarded," explained Finnegan. "I wanted to give him a chance to have a voice."

The 90-minute film had its world premiere at the SXSW festival in Texas in March, but the scientist himself attended the first British screening on Thursday in Cambridge.

Hawking has spent his career at the University of Cambridge, where he was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics from 1979 to 2009, a post previously held by Isaac Newton.

Explore further: British scientist Stephen Hawking backs assisted suicide

Related Stories

Stephen Hawking: Explore space for humanity's sake

April 10, 2013

Stephen Hawking, the British physicist who spent his career decoding the universe and even experienced weightlessness, is urging the continuation of space exploration—for humanity's sake.

Stephen Hawking celebrates 70th birthday

January 8, 2012

British scientist Stephen Hawking celebrated his 70th birthday Sunday, an age many experts never expected the motor neurone disease sufferer to reach.

Recommended for you

Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity

November 17, 2017

Specially tailored, ultrafast pulses of light can trigger neurons to fire and could one day help patients with light-sensitive circadian or mood problems, according to a new study in mice at the University of Illinois.

Strain-free epitaxy of germanium film on mica

November 17, 2017

Germanium, an elemental semiconductor, was the material of choice in the early history of electronic devices, before it was largely replaced by silicon. But due to its high charge carrier mobility—higher than silicon by ...

New imaging technique peers inside living cells

November 16, 2017

To undergo high-resolution imaging, cells often must be sliced and diced, dehydrated, painted with toxic stains, or embedded in resin. For cells, the result is certain death.

The stacked color sensor

November 16, 2017

Red-sensitive, blue-sensitive and green-sensitive color sensors stacked on top of each other instead of being lined up in a mosaic pattern – this principle could allow image sensors with unprecedented resolution and sensitivity ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.