Stephen Hawking is a theoretical physicist and academic celebrity whose distinguished scientific career spans over forty years. Hawking is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. From 1979 to 2009, Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He is also a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and a Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario.
Hawking is known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, specifically in the context of black holes. He has also achieved success with works of popular science. His best-known book is A Brief History of Time, which seeks to explain a range of subjects in cosmology, including the Big Bang, black holes and light cones to the layman reader. Hawking's key scientific works have included providing, with Roger Penrose, theorems regarding gravitational singularities in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation.
Hawking was featured in our "Month of Thinking Dangerously" series, contributing the dangerous idea that we should start thinking about how to abandon Planet Earth to keep humanity from extinction.