22 Things You Didn't Know About Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is one of the most brilliant minds in astrophysics. Everyone knows his name, but much of his biography is still not well-known.

This list of Stephen Hawking facts will make you realize Stephen Hawking is not only brilliant, but funny and self-aware. By the time you finish reading it, you'll be even more amazed by both his mental and physical accomplishments.

Photo: Lwp Kommunikáció / via Flickr

  • He Was Born on the 300th Anniversary of Galileo's Death

    Stephen Hawking's birthday is January 8, 1944. That's exactly 300 years after Galileo's death. It's a delightful coincidence, given that Galileo was a revolutionary astronomer in his own time, and Stephen Hawking would go on to be a revolutionary astrophysicist.
  • Both of His Parents Went to Oxford

    Both of His Parents Went to Oxford
    Photo: Fernando García / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
    It's not terribly surprising that brilliant parents gave birth to a brilliant child. Stephen Hawking's father, Frank, studied medicine at Oxford, and his mother, Isobel, studied philosophy, politics, and economics.
  • He Got Mediocre Grades in School

    When Stephen was growing up, his grades were never above average. This was not because of a lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of effort. He devoted his time to other things, like taking apart radios to see how they worked.
  • His Teachers Nicknamed Him "Einstein"

    His Teachers Nicknamed Him "Einstein"
    Photo: Kirill Afonin / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
    Despite his mediocre grades, Stephen's teachers and peers knew that he was incredibly smart. As a teenager, he and his friends built a computer from scratch. His teachers, in a somewhat prophetic way, nicknamed him Einstein.
  • His Whole Family Was Smart... and Weird

    The whole Hawking family - Stephen, his parents, and his siblings - were highly intelligent, but also quite eccentric. They often ate their meals in silence, with each person reading his or her own book.
  • His Father Wanted Him to Study Medicine

    His Father Wanted Him to Study Medicine
    Photo: Kiran Foster / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    Frank Hawking wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and study medicine at Oxford. Stephen, however, did not like biology. He said it was, "too inexact, too descriptive."