Last week, we looked at Stephen Hawking's childhood, and how his interest for mathematics and physics began. We finished the episode by looking at how his father thought that mathematics had no career prospects, and hence, forced him to study medicine at oxford, where he himself had studied, and follow in his footsteps. In this week's episode of Stephen Hawking's biography, we look at what choice he made, after his father forced him to study Medicine at Cambridge university. We also look at his life at Cambridge and the theories regarding the origin of the universe that existed at that time.
Stephen Hawking chose to study at Cambridge. But he didn't choose medicine like his father wanted him to. Instead, he chose Physics and Chemistry.
Life at Cambridge
Initially, life at Cambridge was too boring and lonely for Stephen Hawking, because he finished all his assignments early. But his classmates weren't as brilliant as him. So, they took a long time to finish it. Therefore, when they were doing assignments, he had to idle away the time. As one can imagine, that would have been too boring for Hawking.
But in the second year, he joined the university's rowing club, so that he could make friends. But contrary to his expectations, the club assigned him the job of steering the boat, because he was too weak to row. But Stephen Hawking steered the boat through dangerous water routes, thus damaging the boats. Thus he became the daredevil of his rowing club. During this time, he also found other interests like cosmology, music, etc.
Stephen Hawking's parents
Stephen Hawking's father was Frank Hawking [Citation 1], who worked as a medical researcher in a medical institute in Hampstead. His mother, Isobel Eileen Hawking [Citation 2], worked as a secretary in the same medical institute. That's how they met, fell in love and got married.
As a result of this love, on January 8th, 1942, Stephen Hawking was born.
Stephen Hawking's childhood
The Hawkings were people who were considered eccentric by others. They used an old taxi for traveling, grew bees, and produced fireworks. They also ate food in complete silence, while reading books.
But despite being born to eccentric, but intelligent parents, Hawking wasn't initially a high-achiever at school. He was actually ranked third from the last in his class.
Until he was eight years old, he didn't even learn to read properly, because the school he was studying at, Byron House School, used hands-on projects to teach pupils to solve problems, instead of teaching them to read and write. After he turned eight years old, he started studying at the St.Albans all-girls' school. The girls' school permitted boys less than ten years old to study at the school, and hence, Hawking continued his education there.
Once he turned ten years old, he began studying at the St.Alban's partially co-educational school. But even in this school, he did not focus much on his studies. He considered the subjects boring, and hence, spent time with his friends, discussing Christianity, playing board games, and making model boats and airplanes instead of studying.
But all this changed when Dikran Tahta, a British Armenian mathematician [Citation 3] came to work at St.Albans school, and started teaching Hawking and his class mathematics. The teaching methods he used impressed Hawking immediately. He also liked to have discussions with his students. So, Hawking became interested in mathematics and science, and decided to do his Bachelor's degree in mathematics.
But Hawking's father wanted him to study medicine at Oxford, so that he could follow in his footsteps. But what did Hawking do? Find out in the next episode of this podcast.