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Stephen Hawking was a cosmic visionary, a figure of inspiration and a global celebrity.
His unique status is reflected in an upcoming auction of some of the late physicist's possessions: It includes complex scientific papers, one of the world's most iconic wheelchairs and a script from "The Simpsons."
Sale - Monday - Auctioneer - Christie - Features
The online sale announced Monday by auctioneer Christie's features 22 items from Hawking, including his doctoral thesis on the origins of the universe, some of his many awards, and scientific papers such as "Spectrum of Wormholes" and "Fundamental Breakdown of Physics in Gravitational Collapse."
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Thomas - Venning - Head - Christies - Books
Thomas Venning, head of Christies' books and manuscripts department, said the papers "trace the development of his thought — this brilliant, electrifying intelligence."
"You can see each advance as he produced it and introduced it to the scientific community," Venning said.
Course - Hawking - Fame - Status - Cosmologist
Of course, Hawking's fame rests only partly on his scientific status as the cosmologist who put black holes on the map.
Diagnosed with motor neuron disease at 22 and given just a few years to live, he survived for decades, dying in March at 76.
Auction - Copies - Hawking - Cambridge - University
The auction includes one of five existing copies of Hawking's 1965 Cambridge University Ph.D. thesis, "Properties of Expanding Universes," which carries an estimated price of 100,000 pounds to 150,000 pounds ($130,000 to $195,000).
Venning said the thesis, signed by Hawking in handwriting made shaky by his illness, is both a key document in the physicist's scientific evolution and a glimpse into his personal story.
ALS - Sclerosis - Cambridge - PhD - Studies
"He was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) just as he arrived in Cambridge to begin his Ph.D. studies," Venning said. "He gave up his studies for a time because he was so despondent.
The thesis "was the fruit of him reapplying himself to his scientific work," Venning said, and Hawking "kept it beside him for the rest of...
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