Timeline of Stephen Hawking’s life

 A glance at the life of celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking, who died Wednesday at 76.
Jan. 8, 1942 — Born in Oxford, England, the eldest of four children born to Frank Hawking, a biologist, and Isobel Hawking, a medical research secretary.
1952 — Attends St. Albans School.
1959 — Receives scholarship to attend University College, Oxford, from which he graduates with a degree in Natural Science.
1962 — Begins graduate research in cosmology at Cambridge University.
1963 — Diagnosed with the degenerative nerve disorder ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, at the age of 21. He is given two years to live.
Jul. 14, 1965 — Marries his first wife, Jane Wilde, a modern languages student he met at Cambridge.
1967 — The couple’s first son, Robert, is born.
1970 — Jane gives birth to a daughter, Lucy.
1974 — Elected as a fellow of the Royal Society at age 32, one of the youngest people to receive the honor.
1979 — Becomes Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a prestigious position once held by Isaac Newton. Hawking holds the post until 2009. Jane gives birth to a third child, Timothy.
1985 — Admitted to a hospital in Geneva with pneumonia. He survives after an operation, but loses what remained of his speech. The next year he begins communicating through the electronic voice synthesizer that gave him his trademark robotic “voice.”
1988 — Publishes “A Brief History of Time,” a book on cosmology aimed at the general public that becomes an instant best-seller.
1989 — Made a Companion of Honor by Queen Elizabeth II.
1995 — Marries his nurse, Elaine Mason.
2007 — Divorces Elaine Mason.
2014 — Hawking’s life is celebrated in the Oscar-winning biopic “The Theory of Everything,” based on the memoir “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen,” by Jane Hawking.
 Physicist and author Stephen Hawking possessed an uncanny ability to come up with memorable phrases and sayings that summed up his world view. Here is a short selection of his many famous observations:
— “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special.”
— “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”
— “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
— “For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”
— “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
— “I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.”
— “Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.”
— “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”
— “We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”
— “My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in. I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students. I find that people in general are very ready to help, but you should encourage them to feel that their efforts to aid you are worthwhile by doing as well as you possibly can.”
Stephen Hawking was a prolific author with a knack for making books on challenging scientific topics engaging to a wide spectrum of readers.
The physicist is best known for his best-selling 1988 classic “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” which was intended to help people without a strong scientific background understand key questions of physics and human existence. In it, he discusses the origins of the universe and its future.
Among his other books are:
— “George and the Unbreakable Code” and other stories: Written by Hawking and his daughter, Lucy, this was a series of illustrated children’s books to explain “secret keys to the universe” to younger readers. The books deal with complex topics including the Big Bang.
— “My Brief History”: A very personal memoir published in 2013 in which Hawking deals among other things with his childhood, his evolution as a thinker and scientist, the impact of his ALS diagnosis when he was 21 and the ways in which the prospect of an early death affected his work.
— “The Grand Design”: Hawking said this 2010 book co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow was intended to address important unanswered questions such as why there is a universe and whether the universe needed a creator and designer. Hawking said his thinking had been influenced by significant advancements in physics that had followed publication of “A Brief History of Time.”
— “On the Shoulders of Giants,” published in 2003, sees Hawking writing about the great astronomers and physicists who preceded them, presenting in a single volume a vast history of the field that makes heavy use of original papers by Einstein, Copernicus, Newton and many others. Hawking puts each in context and explains their role in altering the course of science as mankind moved out of the Middle Ages.
— “Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays”: This best-selling 1994 collection includes a mix of personal and scientific essays.