Archives of physicist Stephen Hawking left at universities and museums
Stephen Hawking’s wheelchairs, a wealth of his articles on theoretical physics and bets made with colleagues and signed with his thumbprint are among the items donated to universities and museums by the family of the famous late scientist .
The Cambridge University Library acquires Hawking’s scientific articles and journals while the Science Museum Group will retain the contents of his office, including his wheelchair and the innovative communication devices that generated his famous “computer voice.” “.
The museum said it aims to display items to the public in early 2022 before visiting them in the UK.
Hawking died in 2018 after a lifetime of scientific achievement, having been diagnosed with motor neuron disease in the early 1960s and was told he had only two years to live.
The astrophysicist has made a series of brilliant discoveries in his field, exploring the relationship between gravity, space and time. He served as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge for three decades, a post formerly held by Sir Isaac Newton. His ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey, between Newton and Charles Darwin.
Describing an “extremely rich archive”, with 50 boxes of papers covering childhood letters and early and unpublished drafts of scientific articles of Hawking’s own writing, Jessica Gardner, University Librarian at Cambridge, said cataloging, digitizing and creating works would be a priority. available online which have aroused strong public fascination for decades.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re in Cambridge or Kenya,” she says. “The goal is to make it as open and accessible as possible for the whole world.”
The content of his office shed light on his creative and collaborative methods, in which he would work through ideas with colleagues via increasingly sophisticated means of communication, the Science Museum said. In order to continue working as his disease progressed, he became a pioneer in assistive technology. The legacy includes a pair of glasses equipped with an infrared sensor to detect small movements of his cheek to facilitate communication.
The Science Museum, where Hawking’s parents would leave him to roam alone as a child, will also acquire typed copies of the bets wagered by Hawking and his colleagues on the validity of academic theories.
One was carried out in February 1997 by Hawking and Kip Thorne against John Preskill, both American theoretical physicists. Hawking and Thorne bet that information entering a black hole was lost forever, contradicting a principle of quantum mechanics. Hawking signed the bet with his thumbprint and kept it in his office – with the winner entitled to claim an encyclopedia.
At a conference in Dublin in 2004, Hawking conceded the bet and reversed his position, giving Preskill a baseball encyclopedia – but other physicists questioned whether he was right to change his mind.
Hawking’s Effects were acquired as part of the Government In lieu of Acceptance Scheme, which allows those with an estate tax bill to offset taxes by making large donations to the nation by making them. donating to a museum or gallery, which usually pay nothing. Hawking’s estate paid £ 2.8million in archive tax and £ 1.4million in office contents.