One of the world’s most celebrated scientists, Stephen Hawking’s life has been told in books, documentaries and movies.
However, if conspiracy theories are to be believed, then one hardly knows anything about the award-winning physicist, who celebrated his 76th birthday on Monday.
According to a story published in MailOnline, there are certain people around the world who are convinced that the real Prof Hawkings died decades ago and then in the intervening years, politicians and scientists from the elite sections of society have installed a lookalike to act in his place.
Some of those who believe he has been supplanted think Professor Hawking, Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, died in 1985 - three years before the publication of his best-selling book A Brief History of Time.
While the idea does seem outlandish, conspiracy theorists have outlined five signs that they claim clearly support their idea, ranging from the way he looks to the complexity of his theories.
His appearance: Conspiracy lovers point out, not many people look younger in 2017 than they did in 1982, especially if they're suffering from a disease as disfiguring as ALS.
The point out that people's ears do not decrease in size and as they get older; and, although gums can recede and teeth can wear down and fall out, it's rare for teeth to change in structure completely without major dental work. In fact, when sceptics examine photographs of man they consider to be an imposter, they often comment that his teeth look as if they've been made worse, with the bottom teeth longer than they were previously.
His condition: The average life expectancy for a person suffering from ALS is said to be four years from diagnosis. Stephen was diagnosed in 1963 with a prognosis of two years. Yet it would appear that he is still alive some 55 years later.
Wedding photographs: While pictures taken on the day of his marriage to first wife Jane Wilde look pretty normal. It's the photos of his second wedding, when he married Elaine Mason, a woman who'd worked as his nurse, that have come under scrutiny. Photos available of that wedding show Mason wearing a different wedding outfit in each and looking decidedly older with shorter redder hair in the second photo.
Voice-synthesizing computer: His voice-synthesizing computer is another matter for conjecture. It's said to work by Hawking twitching a cheek muscle to scan and choose words on the screen and these written words are then turned into spoken words via the voice synthesizer. However, those who believe that Professor Hawking is a puppet don't believe that anyone could do all this simply by twitching a cheek muscle.
What they think is actually happening is that the professor isn't doing anything at all and the voice we hear is the result of NASA astrophysicists typing information into a computer.
If what the conspiracy theorists say is true and if the real Hawking has been switched, the question would obviously be: why?
Here’s where it gets more incredulous, it could be that the powers that be want people to feel that they are tiny unimportant dots in an infinite universe. They also want to get the public used to accepting theories as fact.
The substitute Hawking, as MailOnline had written, they claim, is used as a puppet to instill fear in the general population, promoting the idea that the human race has only 100 years left, that aliens exist and that contact with them – which may be imminent - could be catastrophic.
According to non-believers, the 'puppet professor' is also a great proponent of Artificial Intelligence and science.
And The Hawking of the last ten years is anti-Trump, anti-Scottish Independence and anti-Brexit. He is suddenly very political.
Some of those who believe Stephen Hawking has been supplanted think he died back in 1985 when he contracted pneumonia and was on life support. His life was purportedly saved by a tracheotomy.
While prior to this, he'd been unable to communicate, but when he returned – looking noticeably different – he was miraculously able to 'talk' using an unbelievably advanced computer system....