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Stephen Hawking tribute

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Stephen Hawking

March Newsletter: Tribute to Stephen Hawking. Russell Group Universities Part 2.

It has been a very sad week. On Wednesday, 14th of March at his home in Cambridge, Stephen Hawking, a world famous theoretical physicist, peacefully passed away. He was 76. Stephen Hawking was an inspiration to millions of people and his theories about time and the universe have contributed to science and to our understanding of the world.

He was most famous for “Hawking Radiation” related to his work on black holes. Until recently Hawking could be spotted visiting pubs, giving talks and scooting around Cambridge. I am proud of the fact that my children both went to the same school as Stephen Hawking, St Albans. Up until last year he regularly came to speak at their school.
Stephen was diagnosed with incurable muscle degenerative condition when he was 21 and told by the doctors that he had a couple of years to live. He defied his diagnosis and turned his life into an example of inspiration for people from all walks of life.
Stephen Hawking Wearing St Albans School TieStephen’s family lived in Highgate, London. His mum temporarily moved to Oxford at the height of WW2, where he was born on the 8th of January 1942. Later the family moved back to London where his dad was working in medical research.

 From the age of 11 Stephen attended St Albans school. Then, at 13, his dad entered him for Westminster School Challenge, a scholarship exam.

On the day of the exam Stephen fell ill and didn’t attend it. His parents decided that they couldn’t afford to send him to Westminster School without the scholarship and he continued studying at St Albans. He recollected that he was always middle of the class academically, because other boys in the class were so good. However, he did get nicknamed Einstein at school.

Who knows how his life was influenced by the school, but in his words
I got an education there that was as good as, if not better than, that I would have had at Westminster. I have never found that my lack of social graces has been a hindrance”

Curiously, Hawking remarked that all the mathematics he was ever taught were from his school.

“I’m now a professor of mathematics but I have not had any formal instruction in mathematics since I left St Albans school aged 17.”

At 17 he took a scholarship examination at Oxford and, despite being convinced at the time that he didn’t perform well, he won an Exhibition (a lesser award than a Scholarship) to read Natural Sciences at University College.
He barely scraped by to get a first degree having described his efforts and general attitude at Oxford as laid back and without putting in enough effort.

“The prevailing attitude at Oxford at that time was very anti-work. You were supposed to be either brilliant without effort or accept your limitations and get a fourth-class degree. To work hard to get a better class of degree was the mark of “grey man””.
In the final interview at Oxford where professors had to decide if Stephen would get a first or a second class degree, he announced that if he got a first he would go to Cambridge to continue his education, if he got a second, he’d stay at Oxford. He was awarded a first.
At Cambridge Stephen continued his PhD research with the focus on cosmology and gravity which eventually led to his recognition as the top specialist in the world in the area. Hawking later became the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton, in 1979.
A Brief History of TimeHawking’s sense of humour and appetite for life contributed to his popularity. His works, including the best-selling book ‘A Brief History of Time’ helped popularise the science.

He helped elevate the importance of science and maths in everyday life. Stephen Hawking made many appearances in popular TV programs such as The Big Bang Theory, Futurama and The Simpsons. The recent film ‘The Theory of Everything’ depicts his remarkable life and work very well.
Here is one of the many examples of Stephen’s incredible sense of humour and promotion of science to the masses.
When the fans of One Direction group were heart-broken over the leaving of the group member Zayn, his recommendation was:

“My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay close attention to the study of theoretical physics,” he said.
“One day there may well be proof of multiple universes.”
“It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another different universe. And in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.”
He added: “This girl may like to note that in another possible universe she and Zayn are happily married.”


We continue this newsletter with our outline of the UK Russell Group universities.
Here is Part 2. You can also read
Part 1 here.

University of Manchester – Red Brick

The University of Manchester traces its roots to the formation of the Mechanics’ Institute (later UMIST) in 1824. The Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology merged in March 2003. In 2017, the University of Manchester was ranked 34th in the world and 7th in the UK by QS World University Rankings, 38th in the world and 6th in the UK by Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Main campus: Manchester city centre
Main faculties: Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Biology Medicine and Health
Famous for: Physics
Alumni: James Chadwick (Nobel Prize in Physics), Antony Burgess (writer), Norman Foster (architect), Robert Robinson (Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Newcastle University – Red Brick

The university started as School of Medicine and Surgery, established in 1834, and as the College of Physical Science, founded in 1871. It is ranked in the top 200 of most world rankings, and in the top 25 of most UK rankings. It is ranked 161st by QS, 114th by Leiden and 175th by Times Higher Education globally in 2017 placing it in the top 1% of universities.

Main campus: Newcastle upon Tyne city centre
Main faculties: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Faculty of Medical Sciences, and the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering
Famous for: Dentistry, Art and Design
Alumni: Rowan Atkinson (actor), Andy Bird (CEO of Disney), Tim Farron (leader of Liberal Democrats), Princess Eugenie (studied Art History, English Literature and Politics)

University of Durham

It is one of a number of institutions that claim to be the third-oldest university in England. It was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832. The university is currently ranked 4th to 6th by recent national league tables of the British universities and in the top 100 in three of the four major global tables. The Times Good University Guide describes “long established as the leading rival to Oxford and Cambridge” attracting “a largely middle class student body”.

Main campus: Durham city centre
Main faculties: Faculty of Social Science & Health, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Science
Famous for: English, Music
Alumni: : Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), George Entwistle (Director-General of the BBC), Nick Scheele (CEO of Ford), Milton Margai, (Prime Minister of Sierra Leone).

University of Nottingham

It was founded as University College Nottingham in 1881, and become a university in 1948. Internationally, Nottingham was ranked 74th in the 2011 QS World University Ranking. In 2012, Nottingham was ranked 13th in the world by the number of alumni listed among CEOs of the Fortune Global 500. It is also ranked 2nd in the 2012 Summer Olympics table of British medal winners. In 2015, Nottingham was listed as the 9th largest European producer of entrepreneurs.

Main campus: University Park (outskirts of Nottingham)
Main faculties: Faculty of Art, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Social Sciences
Famous for: Economics and Business studies
Alumni: D. H. Lawrence (writer), Clive Granger (Nobel Prize in Economics), Najib Razak, (Prime Minister of Malaysia), David Ross (co-founder of The Carphone Warehouse).

University of Sheffield – Red Brick

It became a university in 1905 as successor to the University College of Sheffield established in 1897 by the merger of Sheffield Medical School (founded in 1828), Firth College (1879) and Sheffield Technical School (1884). Sheffield was placed 82nd worldwide according to QS World University Rankings and 104th worldwide according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In 2011, Sheffield was named ‘University of the Year’ in the THE awards.

Main campus: The Western Bank and the St George’s (Sheffield)
Main faculties: Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, School of Architecture, Faculty of Social Sciences
Famous for: Engineering, Biological Sciences
Alumni: Andy Haldane (Chief Economist at the Bank of England), Richard J. Roberts (Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine), Harry Kroto (Nobel Prize in Chemistry), David Blunket t(Home Secretary)

University of Southampton

The University id a successor of Hartley Institution in 1862. In 1902, the Institution developed into the Hartley University College awarding degrees from the University of London. In 1952, the institution was granted a Royal Charter to give the University of Southampton full university status, allowing it to award its own degrees. In 2015/2016 QS World University Rankings ranked Southampton 81st overall in the world . Southampton is ranked 83rd in the world (and 11th in the UK) in the 2016 Round University Ranking.

Main campus: Highfield area of Southampton
Main faculties: Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, Faculty of Business, Law and Art, Faculty of Health Sciences
Famous for: Engineering, Naval Architecture
Alumni: Brian Eno (composer), Stephen Payne (Vice-President and Chief Naval Architect of Cunard), Adrian Fulford (Judge of the International Criminal Court), Frederick Lanchester, (co-founder of the Lanchester Motor Company)

University of Warwick

It was founded in 1965 as part of a government initiative to expand access to higher education. Warwick Business School was established in 1967 and Warwick Medical School was opened in 2000. Warwick is ranked 48th overall in the 2015/16 QS World University Rankings, 92nd by Academic Ranking of World Universities, and 80th in the Times Higher Education World University. In 2013 was ranked by QS as the world’s third best university under 50 years old.

Main campus: Coventry
Main faculties: Arts, Medicine, Science, Social Sciences
Famous for: Mathematics
Alumni: Baroness Valerie Amos (UN Under-Secretary-General), Linda Jackson (CEO of Citroën), Yakubu Gowon (President of Nigeria), Stephen Merchant (co-writer and co-director of The Office).


University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1582, University of Edinburgh is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland’s ancient universities. The QS World University Rankings 2015 ranked Edinburgh 17th in the world. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016 ranked Edinburgh 24th in the world. In 2015, the Academic Ranking of World Universities placed Edinburgh as 47th overall and 6th in the UK.

Main campus: Edinburgh (city centre)
Main faculties: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Science and Engineering
Famous for: Science
Alumni: David Hume (philosopher), Charles Darwin , Walter Scott, James Clerk Maxwell (physics)

University of Glasgow

The fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland’s four ancient universities. It was founded in 1451. In the QS World University Rankings Glasgow was 51st in 2013. Glasgow places within the top 20 in the UK and 3rd in Scotland for the employability of its graduates as ranked by recruiters from the UK’s major companies.

Main campus: Gilmorehill (Glasgow West End)
Main faculties: College of Arts, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, College of Science and Engineering, College of Social Sciences
Famous for: Art, Engineering
Alumni: James Wilson (one of Founding Fathers of the US), James Watt (steam engine inventor), Adam Smith (economist), Lord Kelvin ( physicist)


Cardiff University

Founded in 1883 as the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, it became one of the founding colleges of the University of Wales in 1893. The Times Higher Education rankings 17 placed Cardiff 162th in world. In the 2017 QS World University Rankings Cardiff was ranked 137th. In 2013, Cardiff University was ranked as one of the best universities in the UK for supporting LGBTQ students by the charity Stonewall.

Main campus: Cathays Park in central Cardiff
Main faculties: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Biomedical and Life Sciences; and Physical Sciences and Engineering
Famous for: Journalism
Alumni: Huw Edwards (journalist), David Richards (Chief of the Defence Staff), Spencer Dale, Chief economist, Bank of England, Sir Emyr Jones Parry (British Permanent Representative to the United Nations).

Northern Ireland

Queen’s University Belfast

The university opened in 1849 as “Queen’s College, Belfast”, but has roots going back to 1810 and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. The Times Higher Education rankings 2015/16 placed Queen’s 200th in world and in 2014 reported it in the top 25 most international universities. In the 2016 QS World University Rankings Queen’s was ranked 182nd.

Main campus: Belfast (city centre)
Main faculties: Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, the Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine, Health & Life Sciences
Famous for: Law (The only Juris Doctor degree currently awarded by a UK university)
Alumni: John Stewart Bell (physicist), Mary McAleese (President of Ireland), Seamus Heaney (Nobel Prize in Literature), Liam Neeson (actor)

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