Stephen Hawking has received and garnered tremendous achievements in his line of expertise. Although, no prestige can ever make the acclaimed theoretical physicist and cosmologist forget the person who influenced and inspired him to love math.
Professor Dikran Tahta, a British mathematician, is one of Hawking's teachers at St. Albans School in Hertfordshire, England. Speaking ahead of this weekend's award of the Global Teacher Prize, he commended the said teacher, who died at the age of 78 in 2006.
"My handwriting was bad, and I could be lazy. Many teachers were boring. Not Mr. Tahta," Hawking said, adding that his teacher opened his eyes to math, which he dubbed as the blueprints of the universe.
"His classes were lively and exciting. Everything could be debated. Together we built my first computer, it was made with electro-mechanical switches."
Who Is Professor Dikran Tahta?
Professor Dikran Tahta was one of the most outstanding mathematics teacher during his time. He was born in Manchester after his American parents moved there after the World War.
He received a scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford in 1946 with mathematics as his main subject. Though it's his line of expertise, he also equipped himself with knowledge from various fields like English literature, philosophy and history.
In 1954, he was invited back to Rossall School to be a professor of history and English, but he found that he enjoyed teaching mathematics more. He moved to St. Albans school, Hertfordshire, where he met Hawking as an eager pupil.
Tahta's devotion to his profession has produced numerous students who are now achievers in their own field.
For instance, Hawking has contributed much on understanding the universe. His scientific works include a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems based on the idea of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation.
Despite being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neuron disease, and wheelchair bound, Hawking continues to contribute to theoretical physics in the hope to shed light on the universe's many mysteries.
"Thanks to Tahta, I became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton," Hawking added.
As Benjamin Franklin said, a genius without education is like silver in the mine. Scientists are nothing without their teachers who taught them knowledge from the basics to the most complicated ones.