These 15 photos show how Stephen Hawking defied his disability and lived an incredible life

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Obama Stephen Hawking Presidential Medal of FreedomGetty ImagesStephen Hawking receives the Presidential of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2009.

Stephen Hawking, the most famous scientist in living memory, was supposed to die in his early twenties before having the chance to achieve any great distinction, at the hands of motor neurone disease.

Instead, he was awarded a PhD from Cambridge, a series of professorships, met presidents, popes, appeared on "The Simpsons" four times, and travelled to the edges of space.

He died on March 14, 2018, at the age of 76. These photographs give a taste of the incredible life he lived. 
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Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease when he was in his 20s, studying physics at Cambridge. Despite predictions that he would die within a few years, he completed his PhD, and kept going for another five decades. Here's a page of his PhD, which was published online last year.

Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease when he was in his 20s, studying physics at Cambridge. Despite predictions that he would die within a few years, he completed his PhD, and kept going for another five decades. Here's a page of his PhD, which was published online last year.

Hawking also gave lectures and presentations that expanded the minds of millions of people. Here he is at the University of Geneva in 2009, explaining the big bang.

Hawking also gave lectures and presentations that expanded the minds of millions of people. Here he is at the University of Geneva in 2009, explaining the big bang.

Hawking also met some of the most powerful people on earth. He is pictured below in 1998 with then-President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Hawking also met some of the most powerful people on earth. He is pictured below in 1998 with then-President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Hawking also met Barack Obama, who awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Hawking also met Barack Obama, who awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Hawking met several Popes — he's shown here with Pope Francis in 2016 at a Vatican science conference.

Hawking met several Popes — he's shown here with Pope Francis in 2016 at a Vatican science conference.

He met political giants like Nelson Mandela, seen here in 2008.

He met political giants like Nelson Mandela, seen here in 2008.

Hawking was also pals with the Queen. He met her a lot of times for various reasons — this photo shows them at a disability charity reception in St James's Palace in 2014.

Hawking was also pals with the Queen. He met her a lot of times for various reasons — this photo shows them at a disability charity reception in St James's Palace in 2014.

If it's possible, Hawking became even more famous when he was the subject of a Hollywood biopic, "The Theory of Everything." Here he is at the UK premiere with Eddie Redmayne, who played him, his ex-wife Jane Wilde Hawking, and Felicity Jones, who played her.

If it's possible, Hawking became even more famous when he was the subject of a Hollywood biopic, "The Theory of Everything." Here he is at the UK premiere with Eddie Redmayne, who played him, his ex-wife Jane Wilde Hawking, and Felicity Jones, who played her.

Hawking never quite made it to space — but he got extremely close. Here he is in 2007 experiencing zero gravity in a specially-modified plane on the edge of the atmosphere.

Hawking never quite made it to space — but he got extremely close. Here he is in 2007 experiencing zero gravity in a specially-modified plane on the edge of the atmosphere.

Hawking also scaled the heights of pop culture, making four separate appearances in "The Simpsons."

Hawking also scaled the heights of pop culture, making four separate appearances in "The Simpsons."

Hawking's first appearance, shown above, was in Season 10, Episode 22. He made three further appearances in later seasons.

Hawking also made cameos in "Family Guy", "The Big Bang Theory", and "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

He also wasn't averse to the occasional viral trend. Here is Hawking making a video for the ice bucket challenge, which raised money for treating motor neurone disease. However, due to his fragile health he let his children take the cold water hit for him.

 

Despite his adventures and travels, Hawking still spent large amounts of term in Cambridge, where he lived at worked as an academic. He could often be seen travelling around in his wheelchair by students, dining in university halls and lecturing at the institution which taught him.

Despite his adventures and travels, Hawking still spent large amounts of term in Cambridge, where he lived at worked as an academic. He could often be seen travelling around in his wheelchair by students, dining in university halls and lecturing at the institution which taught him.
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