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A Brief History of Stephen Hawking

- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2012

Some milestones in British physicist Stephen Hawking's life:

_ Hawking is born on Jan. 8, 1942, 300 years to the day of Galileo's death, in Oxford, England. He is the eldest of three children.

_ In 1963, while studying for his PhD at Cambridge University, Hawking is diagnosed with motor neurone disease, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Doctors give him about two years to live.

_ Hawking marries Jane Wilde in 1965. They later have three children: Robert, Lucy and Timothy.

_ In 1979, Hawking is named the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, a post previously held by Sir Isaac Newton.

_ During a 1985 trip to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva, Hawking catches pneumonia. He requires a tracheotomy and loses the ability to speak. He soon begins using a computer and voice synthesizer.

_ Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" is published in 1988. The book sells more than 10 million copies.

_ In 1999, Hawking makes the first of several guest appearances on "The Simpsons."

_ Hawking takes a zero-gravity flight in 2007, the first time he is free of his wheelchair in 40 years.

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