STEPHEN HAWKING’S BIRTH ANNIVERSARY: Today’s two and a half minute-long video Doodle celebrates one of history’s most influential scientific minds, English cosmologist, author, and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. Released on the occasion of Hawking’s 80th birth anniversary, the video includes a narration in the physicist’s own computer-generated voice outlining his work and painting a message of hope for the future. Illustrated by Matthew Cruickshank, the voice of Hawking in the Doodle was generated and used with the approval of the Hawking estate.
From colliding black holes to the Big Bang, Hawking’s theories on the origins and mechanics of the universe revolutionized modern physics while his best-selling books made the field widely accessible to millions of readers worldwide.
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Stephen William Hawking was born on this day in 1942 in Oxford, England. Fascinated by how the universe functioned from a young age, his curiosity and intellect earned him the nickname “Einstein.” Following a diagnosis with a neurodegenerative disease at 21, the music of composer Richard Wagner and the loving support of his future wife Jane Wilde motivated Hawking to dedicate himself to physics, math, and cosmology.
In 1965, Hawking defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Cambridge, “Properties of Expanding Universes,” which presented the revolutionary theory that space and time originated from a singularity, a point both infinitely small and dense, best known today as the key characteristic of black holes.
That year, Hawking was accepted as a research fellow at Cambridge’s Gonville and Caius College—his academic home for a lifetime of research. Hawking’s obsession with black holes led to his 1974 discovery that particles could escape black holes. This theory, coined Hawking radiation, is widely considered his most important contribution to physics.
In 1979, Hawking’s groundbreaking work on black holes prompted Cambridge to appoint him as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a position held by Isaac Newton in 1669. Hawking’s doctoral thesis was released to the public in 2017 on a University of Cambridge website, which crashed due to enormous amounts of traffic.
HERE’S IS WHAT HAWKING’S DAUGHTER LUCY AND SONS, ROBERT AND TIM HAS TO SAY:
We are delighted that Google has chosen to celebrate our father’s 80th birthday with this fabulous Doodle. We think he would have loved the Doodle and been very entertained to see his long, distinguished life expressed so creatively in this briefest history of all, a two-minute animation!
We also believe he would have found it important to show that he never allowed the challenges of his physical condition to limit his power of expression nor his determination to make an impact on the world in which he lived. We hope that his example offers inspiration and hope globally to all who face great challenges at this difficult time. Our father would have been 80 years old today and we thank everyone who has joined in the celebration of his extraordinary life and the legacy he gave to us all.
HERE’S WHAT MATTHEW CRUICKSHANK THOUGHTS BEHIND THE MAKING OF THIS DOODLE:
Q. Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A. The chance to celebrate the birthday of Stephen Hawking comes at a time when the value and importance of our planet grows every day. We are a tiny miracle in the great scheme of things.
Q. What were your first thoughts when you were approached about working on this Doodle?
A. I thought Stephen’s extraordinary quotes on life and the universe would make a wonderful short animated film. Not only is animation visual, its fundamentals are built on time and space, subjects that align perfectly with cosmology.
Q. Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A. The evolution of computer graphics during Stephen’s lifetime drove the visual approach greatly. From there, I introduced very basic 3D graphics where necessary. I have a nostalgia for the simple ZX Spectrum games I grew up with!
Q. What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A. To approach life with the energy, humor, and optimism that Stephen did every day.