By Paulo Coelho
In the mid 1970s, when he was about to complete his doctorate in physics, the scientist Stephen Hawking – who was already carrying the disease that would gradually paralyse all his movements – heard a doctor say of him that he had only two more years to live.
‘Right then,’ he thought to himself. ‘now that I don’t need to worry about things like pensions or paying the bills, I can concentrate on trying to understand the Universe.’
Since the disease was progressing rapidly, he was forced to come up with ways of explaining his ideas as simply and as briefly as possible.
Two and a half years went by, twenty years went by, and Hawking is still alive. He can communicate his highly abstract ideas through a tiny computer hooked up to his wheelchair and which has a vocabulary of only 500 words. He wrote his classic A Brief History of Time and was responsible for creating an entirely new vision of modern physics.
Rather than leading him into a life of complete disability, the illness forced him to discover a new way of thinking.
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