Aged just 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (also known as ASL) and was given two years to live. Fast forward 54 years and not only is he still very much alive, he's since been recognised as one of the greatest minds of all time, made several scientific breakthroughs and produced some amazing cameos.
His condition has left him almost completely paralysed and since 1985 he has communicated via his trademark computer, which picks up tiny movements in his cheek and transmits these to a screen which has scrolling letters - he twitches his cheek to stop on a certain letter. It takes him around a minute to type a word, on average.
As well as being a scientific genius, he's also known as being a bit of savage and deliberately running over the toes of people he doesn't like, according to the biography Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind by Kitty Ferguson.
We're all pretty familiar with the time he ran over Jim Carrey's feet, though it looks like Jim was in on the joke. Prince Charles definitely wasn't in on the joke, when, in 1976, Stephen decided to seize the opportunity to 'carelessly run over his toes' after Charles was 'intrigued' by his wheelchair.
The book also goes on to state that: "One of Hawking's regrets in life was not having an opportunity to run over Margaret Thatcher's toes," and I can see how that would be, to be honest.
As well as running people over for laughs, he's also spoken out to say that it's likely aliens exist, but that we should steer clear, because they might just be the thing to end civilisation as we know it.
Speaking about aliens on Stephen Hawking's Favourite Places, he said: "We should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilisation could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn't turn out so well." He's got a point.
And it's not just science and hurting people that Stephen knows a lot about: during a lecture at the Royal Institute in London, for the BBC, he gave an inspiring message for anyone living with depression: "The message of this lecture is that black holes ain't as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought.
"Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So, if you feel you are in a black hole, don't give up - there's a way out."
What an amazing guy. Happy birthday, Stephen.
Featured image credit: PA
Topics: Stephen Hawking