I've recently watched The Theory of Everything and it got me thinking. How does a researcher with a serious physical impediment, such as Stephen Hawking, conduct his research?

Academic life usually involves studying, staying up to date with current literature, attending or giving conferences, teaching some classes, etc. Each of those activities presents serious challenges. For instance, how does he do math? Everything is done in his mind or does he scribble some notes on software? Or maybe in Latex? I'm assuming he has people helping him, too.

I'm not sure if this is on topic here, so I apologize if it's inappropriate.

  • 1
    I do not know him very much. But, I think that he does most of his academic activity in his creative and brave mind. He is so genius.
    – enthu
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 21:54
  • you'll find a nice summary of millet's argument here, in Scientific American: blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/12/31/…
    – joseph
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


Have you read his article in the Wikipedia? I believe most of your questions are answered there.

As for students and researchers with disabilities in general: Every disability is different and different things can be done to help, from extra time on homeworks and exams, to special reading / blackboard viewing devices, hearing aids, keyboards that require very little finger strength, to having another person take notes for the disabled student / researcher. I'm sure I forgot lots of other tools.

The most important tool for research is the mind and with a keen mind most obstacles can be overcome.

  • 2
    I have. Most of my questions are discussed, but in very little detail. I was hoping I could get more insight concerning the mechanics and not just a general answer.
    – han-tyumi
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 17:35

There is a book by Hélène Mialet (philosopher and anthropologist of science at UC Davis) about how Stephen Hawking is working. For the author, Hawking is, by necessity, the archetype of new scientists who are more than just individuals.

Here you can find information about the book : http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/H/bo3750667.html

If I remember well, the book was in some sort of controversy, but this is just me remembering.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .