By James Dacey
This portrait is part of a series of photographs commissioned by London’s Science Museum to celebrate the birthday of Stephen Hawking, who turns 70 on Sunday.
In the picture, the celebrated cosmologist was snapped in his office at the University of Cambridge by the photographer Sarah Lee. It is the classic scientist’s office: modestly decorated, a blackboard full of calculations and full of clutter.
In the foreground you can make out a toy model of one of NASA’s space shuttles, which I believe is Discovery. And what appears to be a plastic model of Hawking as he has been depicted in several episodes of The Simpsons. Note as well the crystal ball – perhaps to aid the great scientist as he searches for his next insight into black holes.
The new collection of pictures will be on show at the Science Museum from 20 January as part of a display that will celebrate Hawking’s life and achievements. The display will feature objects and papers sourced from Hawking’s own personal archives.
Meanwhile, at the University of Cambridge, a special conference is being held called The State of the Universe. The event starts today and will conclude with a public symposium to celebrate Hawking’s birthday on Sunday. A string of high-profile physicists will be speaking, including Kip Thorne, Frank Wilczek and one of last year’s Nobel prize winners, Saul Perlmutter.