Stephen Hawking – A Life in Science by Michael White & John Gribbin


I bought the biography of Stephen Hawking, A Life in Science, some three years ago. Since then this book has traveled with me back and forth to various locations. It is only now that I could read it and that too almost in one sitting. It happened to me with various other books also. I have read them only when some cosmic connection has wanted me to.

Authors have nicely organized the book. Chapters explain the theories of physics perfectly intertwined with chapters taking you through Stephen’s life journey. His challenges, passions and the stubbornness with which he handles everything. It keeps you interested in his research work along with his life. Biographers have tried to clock various milestones in the life of Stephen Hawking with the events happening around the world at that point in time.

Theories of Physics took me back to my student days. I was doing my honors in Physics and was working with professors who were working with labs like Fermi Lab in Chicago. And I could relate to the eccentricities of Prof Hawking with few professors from my university. I categorically remember Dr. Bansal wanting me to join him in doing research in mathematical physics and his getting mad at me when he learned that I was leaving Physics to join a new upcoming field.

Yes! the software was still upcoming in India in the early nineties, which according to him was the worst choice I could make. And probably he was right, I was driven more by the socioeconomic conditions than by what I was capable of doing and what I could have done in the field of Physics. Then people like Dr. Gupta was very sure that he would win the noble prize one day. He used to say that one who has not studied physics is ‘Half Educated’.

The book touches upon the theory of particle, antiparticle. In a simple language, it means that for every particle in the universe there exists an antiparticle. Properties of which are exactly equal and opposite to each other. These particles annihilate each other when in contact with each other. And because of their opposite properties, they attract each other. At times I wonder if our human behavior is also like that? In our world also opposites attract and complete each other. And every human being is looking for its antiparticle, just like the Microparticles.

It also reminded of the times I spent in the UK and my visits to Oxford and Cambridge. When the authors describe Cambridge, I could visualize that small academic city with its characteristic architecture and small by-lanes. Nostalgic am I??? 🙂

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Stephen Hawking - A Life in Science

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