Some of the belongings of the famous physicist Stephen Hawking, who died in 2018 at the age of 76, will be exhibited at the London Science Museum in the British capital from next year. The news comes after an agreement between Hawking’s children, the Cambridge University Library, the Science Museum Group London and the British government. Under the agreement, Professor Hawking’s important collection of scientific and personal articles was transferred to the Cambridge University Library, while the contents of his office in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University were included in the collections of the London Science Museum.
While Hawking’s archive houses very important documents such as his correspondence between 1944-2008, the first draft of “A Brief History of Time”, it also contains a figure of the physicist’s appearance in the famous animated series The Simpsons.
However, Hawking’s protected belongings also include personal wheelchairs and communication equipment that Hawking needed due to his motor neuron disease.
Other objects recorded in the museum collection include the physicist’s personal reference library, scientific research he signed with his fingerprint, doctoral thesis, medals and memories from his extraordinary life.
Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum, said: “By preserving Stephen Hawking’s office and its historical content, we will offer future generations the opportunity to delve deep into the world of the world’s leading theoretical physicists. Professor Hawking has challenged the laws of medicine to rewrite the laws of physics and touch the hearts of millions. “The extraordinary items could inspire the next Professor Hawking to wonder about the world around us.”
Cambridge University’s archives will include the first draft of A Brief History of Time, Hawking’s letters from 1944 to 2008, film and TV scripts, and signed scholarly manuscripts from his early career. In addition, a large collection of photographs, documents and correspondence showing how he communicated with the Popes, US presidents and leading scientists of the era, including Nobel Prize winners Kip Thorne and Roger Penrose, will also be included in the university’s archives.
However, Cambridge University’s purchase of Hawking’s 10,000-page archive means that the famous physicist’s papers join those of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. In other words, Cambridge University Library brings together the work of three scientists who changed the world under one roof.
Stephen Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim Hawking, said in a joint statement, “We are delighted that these two important institutions will preserve our father’s life’s work and spread his legacy to the widest possible audience for the benefit of future generations. Our father strongly believes that everyone should have the opportunity to engage in science. He believed in it, so he will be glad that his legacy will be secured by the Science Museum and Cambridge University Library.
Our hope is that our father’s scientific career will continue to inspire future scientists to find new insights into the nature of the universe, based on the extraordinary work he has produced throughout his lifetime. Our father was part of the fabric of life at Cambridge University for decades and was a distinguished member of the Science Museum. Therefore, it is seen that these relationships, which are very valuable for him and for us, will continue for many more years.”