In the 80s, a forty-year-old Stephen Hawking reached what was known as the height of his intellectual potency but never worked later than five or six in the evening. He would call it a day and head home at that time. The norm for someone of his intellect would be to exhaust himself from wee hours in the morning until late at night, rarely catching a break. One would imagine that to attain his level of genius a break would be a rare occurrence and impossibility based on his contributions to contemporary science.
He explained this peculiar behavior to one PhD students, Bruce Allen, now a professor specializing in gravitational physics at the Max Planck Institute. His advice to his colleagues was based on how as humans, we tend to delve into a problem until it’s completely fixed – even if it takes 24 hours. In this process, Hawking speculates that many forget to enjoy the elements around us. We forget what we used to do – be it music, socializing, making new acquaintances or learning something new. He says people don’t make any progress with their projects because of the nature of physics – but that’s exactly why humans should be involved in ‘life’ and extracurricular elements.
Hawking as a seventy-year-old now beat the odds of a crippling disease for a greater part of his life, but still was able to contribute to the field of study concerning quantum gravity and black holes in the universe. His daunting disease didn’t slow him or his work and now, despite being confined to a wheelchair for half a century as a result of ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. For thirty years, Hawking spent his time as a professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge.
His first contribution to the field of science was the idea of the singularity while working in collaboration with Roger Penrose. With inspiration from work done by both Albert Einstein and Penrose, Hawking proved that the universe originated from the theory of singularity.
In his discoveries of the ‘black hole’, he proved that they produce heat, challenging what was already known about them that nothing could escape from one. As the origin of some black holes is a collapsed star, the size of them was thought to be immense. It was his suggestion that led us to believe that the force of the ‘big bang’ was created by an accumulation of millions of such black holes.
In the 80s, Hawking attempted to answer one of Einstein’s questions that were not solved. The Unified Theory has four connects to modern physics. Its core belief that these were present at the beginnings of the universe. He claimed that understanding this theory was to understand God’s mind. In 1995, when interviewed by Zygon, he said his objective is to have a complete, undiluted understanding how the universe and the reason for its existence.
In 2011, Hawking made statements that would have shocked the world of science and philosophy. He claimed that philosophy was dead, and philosophers were to be blamed at large as they had failed to keep up with modern developments in the world of science. He accused scientists of being the bearers of the ‘discovery’ torch in a quest for knowledge. It was believed that Hawking thought that scientific theories, especially the modern ones, lead people to have a new and different perspective of the universe and the role we play in it.
Professor Hawking was awarded the CBE is the year 1982, and in 1989 was made Companion of Honor. In his years of discoveries and immense contribution to the field of science, he has received many accolades in the form of medals, awards, and numerous prizes. In his years, he has received a total of twelve honorary degrees. Apart from this, he is a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of The Royal Society.
His behavioral patterns are evident in others who are known as elite level creatives. The only things that appeal to them are brilliance and sheer genius; these result-oriented beings don’t stop short for anything else. Being ‘busy’ or engaged in an activity to pass time are unnecessary and extreme for such individuals.
These beings of higher intellect are constantly looking out for external stimulation in the form of conversation, reading, and daydreaming. Their conversation and debates with like-minded individuals that may seem civil at first, but will flourish with excitement and discoveries of exchanging dialogue. Its ironic how as Hawking’s physical condition deteriorated, his intellectual achievements grew further.
We are not born intellects like Stephen Hawking; his level of sheer brilliance cannot be replicated overnight or mimicked. In his ways, studies, and discoveries, one thing was made apparent. No matter how big or daunting a task ahead of us may seem, Hawking believes that ‘going big’ is only necessary when and if our projects/work demand it to be that way. He says it’s unnecessary and disliked the idea of immersing oneself in a particular task for work’s sake. Outside work, he says that we should make time to engage with society, follow our passion, thrive on our hobbies, and leave ‘work at work’. If there was something to draw out of Hawking’s work style, this would be it.