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Hawking no stranger to limelight

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Eddie Redmayne with Professor Stephen Hawking, who he plays in the Oscar-nominated The Theory of Everything

Eddie Redmayne with Professor Stephen Hawking, who he plays in the Oscar-nominated The Theory of Everything

Eddie Redmayne with Professor Stephen Hawking, who he plays in the Oscar-nominated The Theory of Everything

Eddie Redmayne is not the first actor to play Professor Stephen Hawking - in fact, his Oscar rival, Benedict Cumberbatch, did just that in a 2004 BBC drama.

The man himself has appeared in an episode of Star Trek, voiced a cartoon version of himself in The Simpsons and even been sampled by Pink Floyd.

He was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease in 1964 at the age of 22 and given just a few years to live.

Now aged 73 and despite his illness leaving him almost completely paralysed, he is celebrated as one of the most brilliant scientists of the modern age.

His academic success was followed by wider fame when his book, A Brief History Of Time, became an unlikely best-seller.

It expounded his theory of a model of the universe which had no boundaries in space or time.

Upheaval in his personal life, as well as scientific achievements, has cemented Prof Hawking's place in the public eye.

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In February 1990 he left his wife of 25 years to set up home with one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. The couple married in September 1995 but divorced in 2006.

He has been showered with honorary degrees, medals, awards and prizes throughout his career but he has also ruffled the feathers of the scientific establishment with statements about the existence of extraterrestrials, time travel, and the creation of humans through genetic engineering.

He has also predicted the end of humanity - due to global warming, a new killer virus, or the impact of a large comet.


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