Professor Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen HawkingReuters

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking will turn 75-year-old on January 8. Bound to a wheelchair by an incurable motor neuron disease, the Cambridge physicist is famous for Hawking radiation, Penrose-Hawking theorems, and his book, A Brief History of Time. Despite being paralyzed from the time he was a 21-year-old, the scientist is still continuing his research, writing, and delivering lectures.

Also read: Stephen Hawking gives humanity only another 1,000 years on Earth

Ahead of his birthday, we have gathered some interesting facts about the scientist.

His date of birth:

Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, which just happened to be the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death.

He was called 'Einstein':

In school, his grades were rated as worst in his class. Despite that, his classmates used to call him 'Einstein' because of his reputation for brashness. His teachers and classmates would spot a future genius among them.

Diagnosed with an incurable disease:

Professor Hawking was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a type of motor neuron disease, when he was only a 21-year-old. He met with an accident while doing ice skating during his first year of graduation at Cambridge University. Doctors gave him a life expectancy of only two years. The destructive disease first causes muscle weakness, then paralysis, and finally robs the victim of the ability to speak, swallow and even breathe. But he has battled all odds and survived longer. After his hands started paralysing gradually, he began to control his communication device with movements of his cheek muscles.

Pope did not like Hawking:

Professor Hawking once revealed in a lecture that Pope John Paul II warned him that studying the universe was an unacceptable pursuit as its origin was the work of God and should not be unearthed. According to Hawking, he was attending a cosmology conference at the Vatican when the Pope advised him.

His television appearances:

Despite his extraordinary physical challenges, he has never shied away from appearing on television. He first appeared as himself on a 1993 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation; then he lent his voice to The Simpsons, Futurama respectively. He has also acted in the hit CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory as Stephen Hawking himself.