Stephen Hawking's visit to India in 2001


14 Mar 2018

What did Stephen Hawking think of India and Indians?

Stephen Hawking, the celebrated British physicist-cosmologist, who died today (14 March) aged 76, visited India twice: for the first time in 1959 and then again in January 2001.

During his second visit, a 16-day-long tour which he described as "magnificent", Hawking praised Indians for their math and physics skills and also remarked that India changed dramatically since his last visit in 1959.

Here's more.

Strings 2001

What brought Hawking to India in 2001?

What brought Hawking to India in 2001?

Stephen Hawking was invited to India in 2001 to attend "Strings 2001" international conference on string theory in Mumbai.

He was among the 300 scientists from across the globe to be invited to attend the event where the researchers discussed the origin of the Universe.

Hawking and two others were awarded the first Sarojini Damodaran Fellowship by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

The fate of the Universe predicted by Hawking

At Strings 2001, the renowned physicist also delivered many lectures, including "The Universe in a Nutshell" that traced developments in the field of cosmology through the years. He had also made predictions about the Universe's fate during the lecture.

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Mumbai Tour

Mahindra & Mahindra redesigned a vehicle to accommodate Hawking's wheelchair

In 2001, Stephen Hawking traveled around the Mumbai city "in a specially redesigned vehicle from Mahindra & Mahindra" to accommodate his wheelchair, reported Quartz.

The British physicist had also celebrated his 59th birthday on 8 January 2001 at the Oberoi Towers Hotel in Mumbai where he stayed in the first leg of his 16-day India tour.

He later visited the national capital, Delhi, too.

Was diagnosed with ALS at 21 years of age

At 21, Hawking was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, a motor neuron disease also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. But that didn't stop him; he explored the mysteries of the Universe right from his wheelchair for nearly 55 years.

On Indians

Indians are so good at mathematics and physics: Hawking

Indians are so good at mathematics and physics: Hawking

In 2001, Stephen Hawking also met with the then President KR Narayanan at Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi.

At the time, he said, "Indians are so good at mathematics and physics."

"Impressed as he is by the Indian mathematical genius, the theoretical physicist expressed his wonder at this phenomenon and said it seemed to be a national characteristic'," stated a 2001 report by The Hindu.

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