It’s hard to imagine that, today, Stephen Hawking’s name doesn’t ring a bell to everybody. Whether or not people are actually aware of what he was able to achieve in the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, he is one of the highly appreciated geniuses that we have the privilege to call ourselves contemporary with. So, as a way of celebrating him, and his amazing life, I have decided to compose this short list of 3 things you might not know about Stephen Hawking.
First, you may not be aware of this but Stephen Hawking is one of the few Americans to have been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This medal is, in fact, the highest civilian award one can receive in U.S.A. and is a way in which particular civilian’s actions are acknowledged as a contribution to the security or the national interest of the country. Hawking was given the medal by former president Barack Obama on August 12, 2009. Other important people who were rewarded this award were: Pope John XXIII, John F. Kennedy, the Apollo 13 crew or Angela Merkel.
Secondly, due to his fast rise to stardom, Stephen Hawking has become one of the most familiar faces and voices in today’s culture. What’s fascinating though is the fact that he is neither afraid nor upset by the fact that his image is being used as a cultural reference. Moreover, this was made even clearer when he actually agreed to appear in a couple of well-known movies and TV shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation where he makes a series of funny jokes in the company of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton; The Simpsons or Futurama.
Thirdly, although British by birth, the robotic voice produced by the synthesizer that he uses has a distinct non-British accent. Even though due to the evolution of technology he could have modified his synthesizer and make it so that he speaks with a British accent, it has been reported that the scientist refused to give up this part of his persona, as he believes that a change would interfere with who he is to the overall public. His choice is somehow understandable given the fact that his voice, the one that he has been using for the last decades, is one of the easiest to spot elements about him.
An additional fun fact that all technology addicts will sure find interesting is the fact that the device he now uses to speak was so neatly designed that it is capable of determining the words he wants to speak by just detecting cheek movement.