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16 March 2018

Stephen Hawking dies

There are not many physicists who are famous enough to appear in popular TV programmes. Perhaps the world's most famous physicist was Stephen Hawking, who died this week at the age of 76.

Professor Hawking inspired lots of people. This is not only because of his scientific achievements and theories about the beginning of the universe. He got a place in people's hearts because of the way he overcame his disability.

He was just 21 and a student at Oxford when he was diagnosed with an incurable disease affecting his nerves and told he would only live for another two years. After that he married, had three children and carried on working as he lost the power of movement.

His first book, A Brief History Of Time, was a best-seller (even though it was probably too complicated for most people to read) and he became even more famous when a breathing tube stopped him speaking normally. After that, he used muscles in his face to operate a computer voice. This became so famous that when he had the chance to swap the computer voice for a more natural one, he refused. He appeared in The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory as himself.

Professor Hawking was not the only famous UK person to die this week. Another was Ken Dodd, a comedian who was famous for his shows in theatres before television became popular. Dodd, who was 90 when he died, was still performing in theatres – often in shows lasting five or seven hours. He would tell a series of silly jokes, some of which were very old.


UK celebrates its love of dogs

One of the biggest events for dog owners every year is Crufts. This is a dog show which is one of the biggest in the world, getting around 160,000 people to come and see it over four days. Dogs compete for all sorts of prizes. They include moving to music, finding their way round an obstacle course, and prizes for the dogs which are judged to be the best of their breed. This is because in the UK an organisation called the Kennel Club registers dogs of different breeds and says what they should look like. At Crufts there are competitions for dogs of each breed, to find the best one. Then all the different winners go into a final. This year's winner was a whippet called Tease.


Big argument over spitting

One of the strangest news stories of the week has been over spitting. A former footballer called Jamie Carragher, who used to play for Liverpool ,is employed by a major TV channel to talk about football games. Last week he was driving when someone in the car next to him started making fun of him because Liverpool had lost 2-1. Carragher got cross and spat at the other car, hitting the man's 14 year old daughter. There was a lot of outrage about the spitting and Carragher apologised. But then people started getting cross because the driver of the other car had filmed everything on his mobile phone – which is illegal. In the UK we are not allowed to use mobile phones while driving. The TV company has stopped using Carragher until the end of the season.


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