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Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics

Pantheon. Sept. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9781524748685. $25. SCI
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Mlodinow (The Drunkard’s Walk) provides a heartfelt view into the life of notable scientist Stephen Hawking (1942-2018). Mlodinow and Hawking coauthored a book, The Grand Design, which discussed the latest breakthroughs in physics and cosmology. From that time spent together, they became close friends, and this biography provides a unique look into Hawking’s work and personal life. Mlodinow talks about the process Hawking used to compile a sentence using his text-to-speech device using only twitches of his cheek. Hawking’s every move was managed by his carers (he disliked the term caretakers), and Mlodinow learned how to manipulate individual carers to gain more access to the physicist. The author candidly describes personal interactions with Hawking, including wiping sweat and drool from his face, and the depths of their friendship. Mlodinow also discusses Hawking’s discoveries, failures, and theories in physics that changed the way the universe is understood.
VERDICT Fans of Hawking’s work, his life, and the film The Theory of Everything will enjoy a more personal look into his extraordinary life.

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