In today’s age, there would hardly be a literate person who would not have heard about Stephen Hawking because the contribution of Stephen Hawking in the world of science is pretty well known and Stephen Hawking is one of the best scientists and researchers which we have seen in this world.
If you’re looking into the work of Stephen Hawking and the books which he has authored, you would realize that his book “A brief history of Time” has become a worldwide bestseller and was on the list of the bestseller for quite a long period of time. Stephen Hawking is also known for his contribution to the research involving black holes and gravity.
It is pretty harsh that for a man of his caliber, he is forced to stick to his wheelchair because of the neuromuscular disorder which has affected him since a long period of time.
At a young age of 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease and the advanced stages of this disease results in the melting of the neurons of the body which forced him to become wheelchair-bound.
This however did not deter Stephen Hawking, as he continued his research into space and the way in which the Earth works. This disease also took away his voice. You might be thinking that since Stephen Hawking does not have his own voice, how can he talk?
Over the past couple of decades Stephen Hawking has delivered plenty of lectures and speeches all over the world. This brings us to the question how does Stephen Hawking talk? This again is thanks to the science and technological development in our world.
How does Stephen Hawking talk?
As we mentioned above, due to the motor neuron disease, the neurons in the body of Stephen Hawking started melting away and this led to the unclear voice of Stephen Hawking. However, even after the motor neuron disease, Stephen Hawking had the ability to talk.
When Stephen Hawking was detected with pneumonia his respiratory system was in danger of collapsing and that is when doctors decided to do a direct incision in his windpipe to enable the air to go in his body. While this saved the life of Stephen Hawking but it robbed him of his voice entirely. Due to this, Stephen Hawking now cannot speak neither can he move.
When you hear the voice of Stephen Hawking, you need to understand that it is actually a computer-generated voice and not the voice of Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking uses a speech synthesiser which enables him to put words to his thoughts. The voice is actually generated by the computer.
Even before the pneumonia, the voice of Stephen Hawking was blurred and not easily understandable and therefore Stephen Hawking thought about using a voice synthesizer known as DECtalk DTCO1 and this was developed by MIT student in early 1980s and Stephen Hawking was one of the very first person who got to use this device.
Working off a voice synthesiser:
You might be curious to know how voice synthesizer works now that we have mentioned it. Voice synthesizer works on the basis of predictive text. The person who is using the voice synthesizer would be able to select the words which are correct and form a sentence. Different people use a voice synthesizer in different ways but in Stephen Hawking’s case, the voice synthesizer is designed in such a way that it receives the input from the cheeks of Stephen Hawking.
Whichever lectures or talks you have heard of Stephen Hawking are created in the same way. As you might have thought, it is very difficult to select the words with the help of cheeks and make an entire speech and therefore the lectures and the speeches which you hear of Stephen Hawking, are actually created after a lot of hard work and after a lot of consumption of time. This text is then converted into voice with the help of the voice synthesizer. The voice synthesizer is directly connected to the wheel chair of Stephen Hawking and therefore wherever Mr Stephen Hawking goes, the voice synthesizer also goes along with him.
As you might have thought, preparing a speech is one thing since Stephen Hawking would have quite some bit of time to prepare the speech but spontaneous discussions are not preferred by Mr Stephen Hawking because they take a lot of effort and a lot of time for the conversation to be going on smoothly. The voice synthesizer which we mentioned above was used by Mr Stephen Hawking for a considerable amount of time after it was first tested by Stephen Hawking. Even after the more advanced voice synthesizers were available in the market, Mr Stephen Hawking continued with the usage of the same voice synthesizer because he had grown accustomed to it and at the same point of time he was accustomed to the voice which we represented him in the voice synthesizer.
Due to the rapid advancements in the voice synthesiser technology these days another advanced voice to synthesiser has replaced the older one which is used by Mr Stephen Hawking. The latest one is known as Neospeech.
If you have looked at the contribution of Mr Stephen Hawking, you would realize that he is actually contributed much more than many of the other great scientist and researchers and considering the records which he has created for his research in the form of research papers as well as books, it is truly admirable that after suffering from such a disability and going through so many obstacles just to put a voice to his words, Mr Stephen Hawking has continued to share his wisdom and his thoughts and his research with the world which have helped the other scientists and researchers with solving many of the mysteries which were previously unsolved and which were solved with the help of the best and the knowledge of Mr Stephen Hawking. Mr Stephen Hawking, is a true legend just for taking the efforts to overcome the handicap which he has faced and not letting it come in between his work/passion and himself.