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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 30th March 2018 > Science’s Last Star

Science’s Last Star

In 1988, Newsweek featured Stephen Hawking on its cover. The British physicist was 46 at the time, at the threshold of international fame. Here is an excerpt from that interview



ON MARCH 13, 76-YEAR-OLD STEPHEN HAWKING died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), with which he had lived since being diagnosed at 21. Doctors predicted he wouldn’t live for more than a few years, but he survived, brilliantly, for nearly six more decades.

In 1988, when Newsweek writer Jerry Adler visited Hawking at Cambridge University, where he held Sir Thomas Newton’s chair as the Lucasian professor of mathematics, the physicist had just published his first best-seller, A Brief History of Time, a survey of modern cosmology. In 1974, he had made the discovery of the astronomical phenomenon that bears his name, Hawking radiation (explaining how black holes lose their mass).

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VIKTOR ORBAN In early March, Janos Lázár , a senior Hungarian minister, posted a video on Facebook complaining about the lack of “white Christians” in Vienna. Muslim migrants, he warned, were destroying the city, and if someone didn’t do something, they would transform Budapest, Hungary’s capital, in a similar way. “If we let them in…our cities,” Lazar told his followers, “the consequences will be crime, impoverishment, dirt, filth and impossible urban conditions.” Lázár is chief of staff to Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, and his post came roughly a month before the country goes to the polls in April. It was a classic move from Orbán, something his Alliance of Young Democrats (known as Fidesz) had done many times before: play to voters’ fears over Islam and immigration.