11/14/2014 04:39 pm ET Updated Nov 14, 2014

The Role ALS Played In Stephen Hawking's Success

British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has received worldwide acclaim for his discoveries in the field, but still finds himself thinking, "Sometimes I wonder if I'm as famous for my wheelchair and disabilities as I am for my discoveries," as he says in a recent PBS documentary.

"But it's the discoveries that really catapulted Hawking into the pantheon of physics greatness, right?" Time and National Geographic contributing writer Michael Lemonick recently asked in a column. Lemonick joined HuffPost Live host Ricky Camilleri to discuss the roles both amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and brilliance have played in Hawking's achievements throughout his career.

"The public has a general idea that he's this incredibly smart guy who made discoveries," said Lemonick. "If you ask about Einstein's discoveries, they know e = mc2, they know relativity. You ask them about Hawking's, they don't have a clue. The truth is, among his fellow physicists, he's respected for his discoveries but actually not a lot more than a lot of other high-level physicists. But the fact that he could make these discoveries given the limitations he's been saddled with, that is kind of the amazing thing."

At the end of the day, Lemonick does find Hawking's drive more admirable because of his struggle with ALS.

"If I had been suffering from this disease, I have every reason to believe I would have locked myself in a room and never wanted to come out, and he is exactly the opposite," he said. "He has a drive and a spirit and a persistence that allowed him to do things that were pretty darn impressive against very, very long odds."

To hear more about the accomplishments of Stephen Hawking, watch the full HuffPost Live clip in the video above.



Stephen Hawking's Life In Science