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An Epitome of Courage

An Epitome of Courage - Eka dhairyachi gosht


(We often tend to hide behind our weaknesses, 
disabilities, handicaps.... or mourn over them our whole 
life through. Dr Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest 
scientists of this century, did not do so. Inspite of suffering 
from a very rare and dreaded disease, Dr Hawking 
continued his research undaunted. His exemplary courage 
should inspire us to do our best even under trying 
circumstances.)
Exactly 300 years after the death of the great 
scientist Galileo, Dr Stephen Hawking was born in 
Oxford, London on the eighth day of January 1942. 
Little did his parents know that one day their little 
boy would be hailed as one of the greatest scientists 
of this century. Neither could anybody imagine that 
his mind would soar up into space like light. More 
importantly, none could predict that he would be the 
very epitome of courage.

Courage is a wonderful thing. It is that quality, 
which makes people not lose heart when faced with 
a great calamity. It would not be an exaggeration to 
say that Dr Stephen Hawking, a living legend of 
Cosmology, is the very personification of courage 
and hope. Except his mind, his whole body is bound 
to a wheelchair, thanks to a cruel quirk of fate. Yet, 
he is one of the greatest scientists of this century.
An average child, Stephen grew up to be a 
normal teenager, full of mischief and lots of love for 
music and mathematics. Even though his father 
wanted him to study medicine, he was bent on 
studying mathematics. The University of Oxford, at 
that time, did not have a course in mathematics so 
he opted to study physics instead. 
At the age of 17, Stephen started noticing that 
he was becoming increasingly clumsy and even fell 
down a couple of times, for no reason. This perplexed
him and he went to see his family doctor, who 
diagnosed him as suffering from an extremely rare 
disease - ALS or LOU Gehrig's disease that affects 
the nervous system and eventually weakens all the muscles of the body. Stephen says that even as a 
child, his muscle co-ordination was nothing to write 
home about. He recollects that his handwriting would 
send his teacher into a fit of frenzy. Nor was he 
inclined towards sports. Nevertheless, this disease 
came as a bolt from the blue.
How much time he had left on this planet was 
very uncertain. The prognosis was bad and the 
doctors said they could not do much. Undaunted, 
Stephen decided to continue his research and even 
got engaged to a Jane Wilde. Hawking says that, 
ironic as it may sound, it is at this dismal stage, he 
began enjoying life the most. This he says was 
because he started living life for the moment and 
continued his doctoral research work with renewed 
vigour.
In the meanwhile, the disease worked its way 
into Stephen’s body and left him disabled. He began 
studying the concept of “Black Holes”, to get his 
Ph.D. By this time, he was confined to a wheelchair 
and was rapidly losing control of his hands and 
speech. The study of “black holes” sparked his 
imagination with bright ideas. He made many epoch-
making statements that shook established theories. 
Scientists believe that the universe began with a “Big 
Bang”. To explain this concept better, Stephen 
invented what is known as “Lie Algebra”.
Though confined to 
a wheel chair with no 
control over his body 
save a finger and with 
a computer to help him 
express his thoughts. 
Dr Hawking is an 
authority on profound 
subjects of science. 
Numerous honorary 
doctorates and awards 
have been bestowed
on him. He is a Fellow 
of The Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of 
Sciences.

In spite of being considered Einstein’s equal in 
intelligence, Dr Hawking is a very humble man. A 
simple, down to earth man, he has authored many 
books dealing with his awesome ideas keeping a 
layman in mind. His writing is full of wit and 
humour. His style is so lucid that non-scientists can 
also understand him. His book, “A Brief History of 
Time” is one of the best selling books of our times.
On being asked, how he feels about having the 
dreadful ALS, Dr Hawking, the quintessence of 
optimism and hope, says, “Not very different from 
the rest. I try and lead as normal a life as possible, 
and not think about my condition or regret the things 
it prevents me from doing, which are not many.”
Dr Hawking firmly believes that in the next 
millenium, science will discover the core secrets of 
the universe, its origin, its history and maybe even 
predict its ultimate demise.
Like Dr Hawking, there are many people who 
display exemplary courage in their lives. Let us salute 
all those brave people, who in spite of being disabled 
strive to do their best.

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