Departamento de Ciencias Biomédicas Básicas de la Facultad de Ciencias Biomédicas y de la Salud de la Universidad Europea de Madrid.

Stephen Hawking a brilliant life of contradictions

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21-09-2018

Stephen Hawking´s Beautiful Mind (NYT), Scientist´s most memorable quotes (BBC), Stephen Hawking led a brilliant life of contradictions (Fox News)…
 

Tributes to the famous British physicist Stephen Hawking followed one another all over the planet on 14 March 2018. The theoretical physicist and brilliant Mathematician died today at the age of 76, after a long battle with motor neuron disease.
 

Let’s try to understand a little better who this "star of astrophysics" was, his career, his fantastic discoveries and his fierce fight against the disease made him an extraordinary person.
 

He was a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University from 1980 to 2009, as well as member of Gonville and Caius College, and a distinguished researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Moreover he is mainly known for his contributions in the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes.

However that will not have escaped you either, this genius suffered from very many years of a neurodegenerative disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Charcot´s disease.

It is precisely this one that we are interested in today.

One of its major features is that it progressively reaches the neurons and causes muscle weakness and paralysis. However, this attack only affects the motor neurons and the carter was able to develop extraordinary intellectual abilities. Its causes are unknown: however, a genetic cause is suspected. The origin probably depends on environmental and genetic factors.

There is no official treatment for Charcot´s disease: only two drugstore used to struggle agains´t the disease riluzole and edaravone therefore, would slow down the progression of the disease. So, in 3 to 5 years, the disease will progress to complete paralysis and death of the patient by paralysis of the muscles of respiration.

Paralysis is progressive and leads to respiratory failure leading to death in 2 to 5 years with a median survival of 3 years (50% of patients). So imagine the surprise of seeing him carry the disease since the beginning of the 60s !!!! Incredible !!

Recently a lot of research has been done to try to pierce the mysteries around the disease. One of them led by the University of Paris Descartes has allowed to discover, thanks to mice, that a modification of the electrical properties of the motoneurons occurs during the stage where the contacts between the axons and the muscular fibers are degrade. This is therefore a trail to be explored for scientists.

Pimozide, an antipsychotic known for 50 years, has an efficacy on several animal models and on humans. A clinical study is currently underway on a hundred Canadian patients to demonstrate the beneficial effect of the product.

For now, this support breaks down into:
- Kinesitherapy sessions;
- Prescription of anti-spastic drugs (against muscle spasms), myorelaxants and analgesics;
- Management of undernutrition
- Speech therapy sessions and psychological support;
- The establishment of non-invasive ventilation supplementing the respiratory function

«Public comparisons of him to Isaac Newton made him being so special» tells us his colleague Michael Guillen.
For him «the grandest paradox of all would be that Hawking could readily believe in such far-out ideas as imaginary time and a nothingness that is actually everything, but not the idea that God could possibly exist ».

Stephen Hawking thank you for having educated us for more than half a century: thanks for your discovery of solar radiation, black holes, the paradox of information disappearing into space, the theorems about singularities, the imaginary time of Hartle -Hawking and so many others …

Rest in peace our friend. 


FIRMA: 
Andrei Rusu, estudiante de 1º de Odontología, curso 2017-2018. Asignatura: Biología Celular

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