Pune: British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking proved his medical prognosis wrong in 1964 and went on with his pioneering work in astrophysics, recalled his Cambridge contemporary and noted Indian scientist Dr Jayant Narlikar.
"In 1964, a close friend of Hawking's family told me about his illness and said that he had only two years (to live). It was a shock to me but he outlived (it) and the medical prognosis was wrong," Narlikar said, adding that the condition of the iconic British physicist worsened over the years.
Hailing Hawking, who was his junior at Cambridge, the Pune-based astrophysicist said he was "unusual personality in cosmology who did a solid work on Black Holes, radiation emitted by them and overall physics".
"He was an unusual type of personality in cosmology, relativity and black holes. The unusual thing about him was that he could do all the sums in his head and though his body was not responding, his work was commendable," Narlikar recalled.
He said Hawking showed to the world that radiation can escape from black holes which are believed to absorb everything, and this was his "biggest discovery".
"It was an unexpected result, which he derived when he was quite young," Narlikar said.
Reminiscing his Cambridge days, Narlikar said during a summer vacation at Royal Greenwich Observatory, they had arranged a table tennis tournament.
"In the final, I was playing Hawking and I defeated him," he said, Though Hawking was my junior, we could discuss a lot of things.
Though Hawking at that time looked normal from the outside, he may not be quite so internally, Narlikar said, adding, "It is quite commendable that although his body was not functioning properly, he did some wonderful work for science."