Ferguson (Pythagoras, 2010, etc.) brilliantly updates her 1991 children's biography of Stephen Hawking for an adult audience.
Hawking's work on black holes and the origins of the universe guarantees him a place in the scientific pantheon, but his ability to pursue scientific work despite the ravages of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) have earned him superstar status. Diagnosed in 1962 with a prognosis that he would be dead within two years, he refused to be daunted. He continued his studies, married and fathered three children and made major contributions to our understanding of the universe, all while struggling to maintain his ability to function despite increasing muscular atrophy that prevented his use of his hands, confined him to a wheel chair and ultimately robbed him of his ability to speak. In 1979, he was appointed Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair once held by Isaac Newton. Now almost 70 and only able to communicate through a computer, he still maintains a busy lecture schedule. His latest book, The Grand Design (co-authored by Leonard Mlodinow), was published in 2010. Ferguson has relied on Hawking for guidance on scientific topics and on a memoir written by his ex-wife for details of life during their 25-year marriage. Her ability to write clearly about scientific issues using metaphor rather than mathematics makes this an excellent introduction to astrophysics for the interested layman.
A fascinating portrait of a complex figure who ponders the place of man and God in the universe and who still loves the “Eureka moment of discovering something that no one knew before.”