Hawking Gets Personal

The author of the best-selling A Brief History of Time tries a new formula: less cosmology, more about himself

For the past hour, the attention of a group of wheelchair-bound teenagers in a Seattle auditorium has been completely focused on the man seated in front of them. Such self-control would be unusual for teens in any case; it's even more impressive considering that the speaker is a theoretical astrophysicist. Stephen Hawking has a few advantages, though. For one, the 51-year-old Cambridge University professor is probably the best-known scientist in the world. For another, Hawking is in a wheelchair too, the victim of a degenerative nerve disease that has left him as paralyzed as his youthful audience.

But what really has...

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