Cosmology Stardom

Within the rapidly advancing world of modern technology, the name Stephen Hawking was becoming synonymous with innovative cosmology and the mysterious and intriguing issue of black holes. Recognition for his talent was coming fast upon him. In March 1974, Hawking became one of the youngest scientists elected to the Royal Society of London. Between 1975 and 1976, he won six awards for his advances in science, including the Eddington Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society, the Pius XI Medal from the Vatican Pontifical Academy of Science, the William Hopkins Prize from the Cambridge Philosophical Society, the Hughes Medal from the Royal Society of London, the Dannie Heinemann Prize, and the Maxwell Prize.

In 1977, Cambridge created a special chair of gravitational physics exclusively for Hawking, to hold for as long as he remains at the university. In 1978, he received the prestigious Albert Einstein World Award of Science given by the Lewis and Rose Strauss Memorial Fund in recognition of his work toward unifying physics. Then, in 1979, one of the highlights in Hawking's life occurred when he became Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, a position of high honor first held in 1663 by English mathemetician Isaac Barrow (1630-77) and then by English physicist Isaac Newton (1642-1727) in 1669.

Though burdened with the duties of professorship and travel associated with his growing celebrity, Hawking was able to carry on with his theoretical work. By 1981, he had published a book on cosmology with Martin Rocek called Superspace and Supergravity. In December 1981, Queen Elizabeth II honored Hawking by naming him a Commander of the British Empire.

In 1983, Hawking, Gary W. Gibbons, and T. C. Silkos published a book called The Very Early Universe, describing the big bang theory in complex terms. In the meantime, New York University, the University of Notre Dame, Princeton University, and Britain's University of Leicester each made him an honorary doctor of science. Also in 1983, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) profiled Hawking in a program called Horizon, where he was shown going about his business at the DAMPT at Cambridge. Hawking welcomed the publicity.

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