Stephen Hawking Dies

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Hawking estimated that he studied about 1,000 hours during his three years at Oxford. These unimpressive study habits made sitting his finals a challenge, and he decided to answer only theoretical physics questions rather than those requiring factual knowledge. A first-class honours degree was a condition of acceptance for his planned graduate study in cosmology at the University of Cambridge. Anxious, he slept poorly the night before the examinations, and the final result was on the borderline between first- and second-class honours, making a viva (oral examination) necessary. Hawking was concerned that he was viewed as a lazy and difficult student. So, when asked at the oral[clarification to describe his plans, he said, "If you award me a First, I will go to Cambridge. If I receive a Second, I shall stay in Oxford, so I expect you will give me a First. " He was held in higher regard than he believed; as Berman commented, the examiners "were intelligent enough to realise they were talking to someone far cleverer than most of themselves". After receiving a first-class BA (Hons. ) degree in natural science and completing a trip to Iran with a friend, he began his graduate work at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in October 1962.

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