Plus One English Notes Chapter3 Quest for a Theory of Everything

The "Plus One English  Chapter-wise Notes" includes all the important concepts for class 11 (English Medium) students in an easy-to-understand way. This is the fascinating story of one of the greatest quests in science-the search for a "Theory of Everything" which would unify Einstein's general relativity with quantum mechanics. In 1991, Stephen Hawkings announced that he had achieved this. Four years later, however, he admitted that he had made a mistake. Richard Dawid tells the whole story of Hawkings' theory and the experiences that led to its mistaken claim to have solved the problem.  The content is prepared by our subject experts to ensure a memorable learning experience along with self-correcting and self-evaluating options. Our continuous efforts have made us successful in achieving more appreciations from the users.

Board SCERT, Kerala
Text Book NCERT Based
Class plus one
Subject English Notes
Chapter Chapter 3
Chapter Name Quest for a Theory of Everything
Category Plus One Kerala

Kerala Syllabus plus one English Notes Unit I Chapter 3 Quest for a Theory of Everything (Profile)

Chapter 3 Quest for a Theory of Everything


Liam O’Flaherty (28 August 1896 to 7 September 1984) was born in Ireland. He was a great novelist and short-story writer. Many of his works have the common theme of nature. He was interested in sea-life and closely studied the life of seagulls (കടൽകാക്ക). The short story ‘His First Flight’ is one of his famous works. It is about the nervousness (ആശങ്ക) we experience before doing something new.



(The lesson is a profile of Stephen Hawking. A profile is a short biography of somebody.)


BEGINNING: Stephen Hawking was born on 8 January, 1942, in Oxford, England. He grew up in a highly educated family. Both of his parents, Frank and Isobel Hawking, had studied at Oxford University. His father, Frank, was a medical researcher. Though not wealthy, the family placed a high value on education. They moved to St Albans in1950. The eight-year-old Hawking attended St Albans School. He was just an ordinary student, slow in learning to read. His teachers found his handwriting very difficult to read. So, he was ranked among the average students. Stephen was always interested in science. By the time he was eight he thought he would become a scientist. His father advised him to study medicine. But Stephen had no taste for biology. His father wanted him to attend the famous Westminster School in London. It needed a scholarship because the fees were too high. On the day of the scholarship examination, the 13-year-old Stephen fell ill and the opportunity was lost. So, he remained at St Albans School.

          THE OXFORD YEARS: 

At fourteen Stephen decided to study mathematics and physics. His father called it impractical because of low job opportunities. Mathematics graduates could only become teachers. Frank wanted his son to study at University College, Oxford. He had studied there. Stephen agreed. Mathematics was not available at Oxford. So he chose natural science and physics. In 1959, at age 17, he entered Oxford. He selected theoretical physics as his specialty. For the first 18 months, he was bored and lonely. He was not able to take enough interest in his studies. Later it changed. Stephen began to mingle with his college mates. He wore his hair long and became a popular, lively and witty college member. He was interested in classical music and science fiction. He took part in sports. In the third year at Oxford he applied to do PhD at Cambridge. For this he needed a first-class from Oxford. But he ran into trouble at the end of the third year. The final result was on the borderline between first and second class. This made a viva necessary. At the oral examination he was asked about his future plans. Stephen said, "If you award me a First, I will go to Cambridge. If I receive a Second, I shall stay in Oxford, so I expect you will give me a First”. His ready wits saved the situation. He became famous for this reply among his friends. He got his ‘First’ and went to Cambridge in 1962, at age 20.

          AT CAMBRIDGE: 

Stephen's first year at Cambridge was difficult. His mathematics was not strong enough for his PhD. He found Einstein’s theory of general relativity very tough. Jane Wilde, a shy teenager, met Stephen at a New Year’s party in 1963. For her, he didn’t look neat and tidy. He was very intelligent and interesting but arrogant, Jane thought. She was attracted to his sense of humour. Their friendship grew. At Cambridge Stephen was known for his brashness. Though a young researcher, he asked difficult questions to great scientists. People called him ‘a genius’ and ‘another Einstein’. 
During his third year at Oxford, Hawking started tripping. At Cambridge, he had trouble tying his shoes. His speech became unclear. It was diagnosed as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The disease causes total loss of muscle control and paralysis. It has no cure. Stephen fell into a deep depression. He was only 21 years old. Doctors said he had only two or three years to live. The future looked terribly uncertain. He had felt very bored with life before his illness. The disease made him think that life was precious. Suddenly he saw that there were a lot of good things to do. But he didn’t know what to do. He was very confused. Life seemed to be too short. He dreamt that he was going to be executed.


It was now Jane stepped in. It made all the difference in Stephen’s life. Jane was serious-mined and had strong faith in God. She supported Stephen and tried to give him courage. Her optimism cleared his confusion. He began to study and work harder. Between his work and Jane, Stephen had a reason to live. They were married in July, 1965. In the same year, at age 23, Stephen received a research fellowship at Caius College, Cambridge. He had his PhD degree in March 1966. Two years passed. Stephen didn’t die. His first son was born in May 1967. He was enjoying life in the present, more than ever. 
By the end of 1960’s Stephen lost the use of his arms and legs. He needed a wheelchair. His third child was born in April 1979. In the same year he was appointed as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge at age 38. His inaugural lecture was titled: ‘Is the end in sight for Theoretical Physics?’ By then Stephen was in need of money. He thought of writing a popular science book about the universe. The first draft of the book, called A Brief History of Time, was completed in 1984. During a visit to Switzerland in 1985, Stephen caught pneumonia.


The young seagull stood on one leg at the edge of the high rock. He closed his eyes and pretended to be falling asleep. He was hungry for twenty-four hours. He saw his mother tearing a piece of fish. The sight of food maddened him. He cried with hunger. Mother seagull picked up a piece of fish and flew across to him. When she reached just near her son, she became motionless in the air. She did not get down on the ledge. The young seagull dived at the fish in his mother’s beak. Just then she flew upwards.

The young seagull lost his balance. He fell down from the rock into space. Now he was in the open air. He saw the wide sea beneath him. He became much frightened. The next moment, his wings spread outwards.

He flapped his wings again and again and started to fly. His family joined him on his first flight. He flew upwards and then dived. His parents, brothers and sister flew around him. Finally, he landed on the sea. Now he was floating on water. He knew he would not sink. He was no longer afraid. His family praised him. They offered him scraps of dogfish. He had made his first flight. The disease threatened his life. Doctors removed his windpipe in an operation to save him. But he lost his voice for ever. Moreover, he could breathe only through a hole made in the throat. For communication, he received a computer programme, called the ‘Equalizer’, from Walt Woltosz, a computer expert in California, USA. It allowed him to select words from a computer screen. The computer was fitted on his wheelchair. A Brief History of Time was published in 1988 with the help of his student Brian Whitt. It was an extraordinary success. Stephen became a celebrity scientist. Media called him ‘master of the universe’. 
Stephen Hawking preferred to ignore his physical disabilities. He died at his home in Cambridge, England, on 14 March 2018, at the age of 76. By that time, he was almost completely paralyzed. But he was still doing research in science. He lived with a terrible disease, making achievements.

 Review of 'His First Flight'

Liam O’Flaherty’s ‘His First Flight’ is one of his most famous works. It is a parable (a short moral story). It symbolizes the nervousness we experience before doing something new. The theme is ‘Overcoming fears in life. We need to be independent and confident in life. We must not live away from family. Our family is a source of inspiration and motivation. Parental guidance, encouragement and discipline have a major role in shaping the future of children.

Mother seagull does the trick to get her young son to fly. Leaving him alone on the ledge without food did not work well. She decided to exploit his hunger. A piece of fish right in front; he went for it, and he was in the air, making his first flight. The baby seagull faced a crisis, a do-or-die situation, fall or fly. He had good wings. But he was in a state of fear and ignorance. He had no belief in the strength of his wings. He knew their strength only when his life was in danger.

Flaherty creates effective word pictures. We have the feeling that we see what we read. Each and every movement of the birds is given in all its details. Birdlife and habits are revealed clearly in the story. Flaherty’s seagull is not a bird. It is every beginner, always afraid of taking the first step. The story gives the message ‘Conquer fear, and we realize that we are born with wings’.

Questions and Answers


Question: 1 – Attempt an assessment of the personality of Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde. 

Stephen Hawking: Stephen Hawking was one of the most famous scientists of modern times. He was an inspiring man of extraordinary life and mind. His university friends remember him for his wit and brashness. He was diagnosed with ALS when he was 21. Later he became wheelchair-bound, paralyzed and speechless. But he made great achievements in his career. His book 'A Brief History of Time' made him a celebrity scientist. His goal was a complete understanding of the universe by developing a ‘Theory of Everything’. He was positive and cheerful. He thought of his research only and ignored his ill health. 
Jane Wilde: Stephen Hawking’s wife Jane Wilde is a serious-minded woman. She has strong faith in God due to her mother’s childhood influence. She met Stephen at a New Year’s party in 1963 when she was a teenager. He didn’t look neat and tidy for her. He was very intelligent and interesting but arrogant, Jane thought. She was attracted to his wit and independent personality. She was loving and sympathetic. Her optimism, care and support helped Stephen ignore his terrible disease and renew his work. They were married in July 1965. 

Question: 2- Write a note on ‘A Brief History of Time’. 

“A Brief History of Time” is a modern classic written by the famous scientist, Stephen Hawking. He wrote the book to raise fund when he was in need of money. The book helps the common man understand science. He has used a minimum of technical language in the book. It was published in 1988 and was an instant success. In this book, Stephen Hawking talks about cosmology and many theories in physics. He talks about the history of physics, gravity, how light moves in the universe, space-time, elementary particles, black holes, the Big Bang, the nature of time, time travel and the search for a ‘Theory of Everything’. Some other questions Hawking deals with are: Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come to an end, and if so, how? 

Question: 3: The following information is about the famous person, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Prepare a profile of him. 

Birth : 15th October, 1931, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. 
Education: Specialized in Aero engineering from Madras Institute of Technology 
Career : Joined DRDO in 1958 and, ISRO in 1963. Was Principal Scientific Advisor to Govt. of India. Scientific Advisor to Defence Ministry. 11 th President of India (2002- 2OO7). 
Awards: Padmabhushan in 1981;Padmavibhushan in 1990; Bharat Ratna in 1977. 
Death : 27 July 2015, aged 83. 

Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam-A Profile Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was born on 15th October, 1931 in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. He studied at Madras Institute of Technology, specializing in Aero-engineering. In 1958 he joined DRDO. Later, in 1963, he entered ISRO. He acted as the Principal Scientific Advisor to Govt. of India and Scientific Advisor to Defence Ministry. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990. In 1997, Kalam received India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. He was the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. He died on 27 July 2015, aged 83.

Question:4 : Stephen Hawking overcame his crippling disease and became the ‘supernova’ of world physics. On the occasion of the release of book on Stephen Hawking, you are asked to deliver a speech describing him to theaudience. Prepare the script of the speech.


Dear friends,
The Persian poet Jalaluddin Rumi sings in his poem ‘I will fly’
        ‘I am not meant for crawling,
         I have wings, I will fly
         I will fly and fly.’
This is what Stephen Hawking did in his life. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with ALS, a terrible
disease. But he became a celebrity scientist of modern times. He was wheelchair-bound, completely paralyzed and speechless. He ignored his ill health and thought of his research only. Using a computer programme, he was capable of speaking just 15 letters per minute. But he was a highly successful lecturer and author. Buddha says, ‘Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.’ Hawking lives the words of Buddha. His extraordinary life teaches us how to get on with life.

Thank you.

Qn: 1: The following excerpt has been taken from the passage 'Quest for a Theory of Everything'. Read it.

It is of course a miracle that Hawking has been able to achieve everything he has; that he is still alive.
However, when you experience his intelligence and humour, you begin to take his unusual mode of communication and his obviously catastrophic physical problems no more seriously than he seems to himself. That is exactly the way he wants it. He chooses to ignore the difficulty and he expects others to adopt the same attitude.

What quality of Stephen Hawking do you observe here? - Write your answer in a paragraph.
(Hints: Write a character sketch of Stephen Hawking.)

Question: 2
‘My dreams at that time were rather confused,’ he admitted. ‘Before my condition was
diagnosed, I had been very bored with life. There did not seem to be anything worth doing. But
shortly after I came out of hospital, I dreamt that I was going to be executed. I suddenly realized
that there were a lot of worthwhile things to do, if I were reprieved. Another recurring dream was
the idea of sacrificing my life to save others. After all, if I were going to die, I might as well do some

1. Identify the speaker.
2. What was the speaker diagnosed with?
3. How did the speaker feel about life before the diagnosis?
4. What drastic change came over the speaker after the diagnosis?
5. What was the recurring dream?

Question: 5: Fill in the following passage choosing the right word given in the box.
(unfortunately, therefore, but, so)

Frank and Isobel Hawking, Stephen's parents, were not wealthy, (a) ................ they believed in the value of education. (b) ............... they planned for Stephen to go to Westminster, a famous public school in the heart of London. (c) ................ Stephen was ill at the time of the scholarship examination for Westminster. (d) ................., he attended the local Saint Alban's School.

Question: 6:
Choose the appropriate words to fill in the following message.
(ever, usually, often, hardly) ‘Arrived home at 8.30. We ................go out in the evening. I’m tired. Call you back tomorrow morning. I’m going to bed. I.................. go to bed early.’

Question 7:
Fill in the blanks using the appropriate word given in the box.
(while, although, until, whenever, since)
a) ............... the dolphin lives in the sea, it is not a fish, it's a mammal.
b) Please visit us are in the Chicago area.
c) Mother took a nap ...............Amy and I went bicycling.
d)............... I'll be late for dinner; I will get a sandwich downtown.
e) You must keep practicing the speech get it right.

Timeline & Profile:
A timeline is a list of events arranged along a line in the order they happened. The line is
drawn either horizontally or vertically. The beginning can be either from the top or bottom. A profile is a short
biography of somebody.

Question 8: Prepare a profile from the timeline of Abraham Lincoln given below.

 1865: Lincoln was elected as President for a second time. He was assassinated on April 14th in
Ford's Theater by Wilkes Booth.
 1863: Lincoln abolished slavery of the Negroes. He delivered a famous speech known as ‘The
Gettysburg Address’ on November 19th near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
 1861: Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States.
 1842: Abraham Lincoln married Miss Mary Todd.
 1831: Lincoln began working for himself. His work included: boat building, sailing, carpentry,
sawmilling, and logging. He also began studying the law.
 1817: Abraham Lincoln's family settled in Indiana. This included his father, mother, sister, and
 1809: Birth of Abraham Lincoln in Kentucky on February 12th.

Question: 10: The following information is about the famous scientist Einstein. Prepare a profile of him.

Birth: March 14, 1879-in Ulm, Germany
Father: Hermann Einstein, salesman and engineer
Mother: Pauline Einstein
Childhood: Shows signs of speaking problems-Iearned to speak at a late age- elementary education at
a catholic school in Munich - average student
Achievements : Receives diploma as teacher of physics and mathematics (l90O); Awards Doctorate
degree; Publishes concepts of special relativity, photon theory of life, Mass-energy
equivalence formula E=mc2 (1905); Nobel Prize in physics - the law of the photo electric
effect (1921)
Spouse: Mileva Maric (1903-1919), Elsa Lowenthal (1919-1936)
Death: 18, April 1955 (age 76)

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