Physicist Stephen Hawking may have been confined to a wheelchair for most of his life, but his physical disability never slowed down his mind or his wit.
In the 2012 biography Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind, author Kitty Ferguson wrote about incidents where Hawking’s wheelchair made some unfortunate encounters with the toes of bystanders.
Prince Charles had one such encounter in 1977. Ferguson wrote, “The prince was intrigued by Hawking’s wheelchair, and Hawking, twirling it around to demonstrate its capabilities, carelessly ran over Prince Charles’s toes.”
While the incident with the prince was clearly an accident, a rumor persisted that others were intentionally targeted by Hawking’s wheels. Reportedly, anyone who annoyed the great scientist would feel his wrath in the form of crushed toes. When confronted with these stories, Hawking denied it. “A malicious rumor,” he said. “I’ll run over anyone who repeats it.”
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