I have often wondered, just how important was/is the work of Steven Hawking to astro-physics? He is a household name, yes, but how much is that due to his research, theories and plain hard science work? I fully sympathize with his medical condition and it seriously challenges ones faith in God when we ask, 'why did it have to happen to him?'
He is so easy to recognize and has become iconic with his motorized chair, paralyzed body and electronic voice-box that speaks of concepts that most people struggle to understand, but lets judge the man by his work.
Put simply: Would Steven Hawking be as famous as he is--based on his work-- if he wasn't stricken with a terrible condition which media companies seem eager to highlight, to show the triumph of his spirit?
Personally, as he is a fellow Englishman, I hope he does live up to the hype. But I remember watching a documentary where one of his major theories on black holes turned out to be erroneous. Can anybody give me their opinion on this subject? Does he merit his fame in science?