Why we shall have to wait for a real biography of Stephen Hawking
|January 14, 2012||Posted by News under Cosmology, Books of interest, News|
In a review of Kitty Ferguson’s Stephen Hawking, Ed Lake “examines how Stephen Hawking gets the world to sit up and take notice” (Telegraph, January 12, 2012):
When he speaks, as he has this week on his 70th birthday, the world takes notice. That’s partly down to his distinguished career but, let’s not be squeamish, partly because his motor neurone disease and voice synthesiser have made him a convenient symbol for the life of the mind. That aura of mystical detachment doesn’t quite stand up to examination, however. “Was it just an accident that he always seemed to come up with attention-getting statements whenever public and media attention appeared to require a boost?” asks Kitty Ferguson in her starry-eyed biography. As one of Hawking’s assistants told her: “He isn’t stupid, you know.”
One starts to suspect that his real genius may be for judging the appetites of the public.
Well, how about the appetites of self-conscious urban elites – people who feel knowing about “imaginary time” and space wormholes, who could not point to and name a single star visible in their own region.
Indeed, there’s so little that’s dark or sad about her Hawking, the effect is almost sinister. Perhaps he really is just a permanently upbeat and sunny chap. On the other hand, …
On the other hand, that’s highly unlikely. Such people exist, to be sure, but they don’t think, say, or do the things Hawking has. Which is why we shall have to wait for a real biography of Stephen Hawking.
Stephen Hawking at 70: What would revolutionize our understanding of the universe
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