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New Release: Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind

By Kitty Ferguson
Palgrave Macmillan | 320pgs
Release Date: January 3, 2012

Science writer Kitty Ferguson builds a revealing profile of physicist Stephen Hawking’s early life in the new book Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind. Hawking, best known for his research in the areas of theoretical cosmology and quantum gravity, is one of the world’s most renown scientists. With his lectures and writings, he has made highly complicated scientific theories interesting and palatable to the general public. “It’s not dumbing down [science]; it’s really making it accessible, hopefully, to a lot of people,” explains the author in an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air. Her book focuses on Hawking’s early childhood through his undergraduate and graduate work at Oxford and Cambridge respectively, and his diagnosis of ALS disease in the early 1960′s. At the time, doctors predicted he would not survive his 20′s, but the physicist has beaten the odds, and will celebrate his 70th birthday on January 8th.

“It’s just so interesting to see how he came to terms with [his illness],” continues Ferguson. “What he says is that it wasn’t courage. [He says] ‘I just did what I had to do.’ … He took to listening to a lot of Richard Wagner, thinking of himself as a rather tragic hero. His mind went through all kinds of ways of dealing with that type of problem, but eventually, I think, he realized that theoretical physics was kind of a great escape from it.”

Ferguson has worked with Hawking for over ten years and helped edit his book The Universe in a Nutshell. The Cambridge professor admires Ferguson’s talent for explaining complex intellectual concepts in relatable language, and her book was written with his blessing. Along with detailing his early life, Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind also touches on his latest scientific theories.

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