Stephen Hawking Exhibition Hopes to Explore Human Side
A new Stephen Hawking exhibition opening Friday at London's Science Museum hopes to show the human side of the celebrity scientist, drawing on artifacts from Hawking's study, letters from his archives, and pictures from his family collection to paint a more intimate portrait of the world's best-known living theoretical physicist.
"There's quite a stereotyped image that we have of Hawking in a wheelchair in front of a field of stars, saying something profound about the universe," Alison Boyle, the museum's curator of astronomy, said Thursday before the exhibit's launch. "There's much more to him than that."
Hawking, 70, is renowned for his pioneering work on black holes and his best-selling series of popular books which have helped guide millions of non-academics through the esoteric outer reaches of cosmology, quantum theory and theoretical astrophysics.
His career has been all the more remarkable because he has Lou Gehrig's disease, an incurable degenerative disorder that has left him almost completely paralyzed and dependent on his distinctively robotic voice synthesizer to communicate.
Many of the pictures projected onto the wall of the Science Museum's one-room exhibit harkened back to a time before the scientist became synonymous with his wheelchair and his computer-generated monotone.