Stephen Hawking (b. 1942)

British physicist and author. Born in Oxford and raised in London, Hawking earned his B.A. at Oxford University and his Ph.D. at Cambridge University, where for three decades he held the professorship of mathematics once held by Sir Isaac Newton. Hawking is a renowned theoretical physicist; his work has contributed greatly to the modern scientific understanding of cosmology, quantum gravity, and black holes. In addition to a wealth of highly specialized scientific publications, his A Brief History of Time (1988) introduced millions of readers to contemporary ideas about the physical universe; Hawking’s most recent book, The Grand Design (2010), co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, discusses attempts to combine Einstein’s theory of general relativity with quantum physics to create a “Theory of Everything.” See also hawking.org.uk.