Hawking Hawking: The Selling of a Scientific Celebrity – Black holes and bad behaviour
Charles Seife sees his subject as he was: a flawed man and great scientific theorist
Prof Stephen Hawking in 1983. Photograph: Peter Thursfield
Stephen Hawking. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA
Some of Stephen Hawking’s admirers, and there are millions, will be disenchanted, even distressed, by this cleverly though somewhat cruelly titled biography of the scientist who discovered black hole radiation.
Charles Seife, a professor of journalism at New York University, has a remarkably firm grasp of the ever-shifting theories of contemporary atomic physics, which is just as well, since those theories are mind-bogglingly obscure. He sees his subject whole and sees him plain, and his book is fair to a fault to a man who considered that the celebrity figure he most resembled was not Albert Einstein but Marilyn Monroe – known for his body more than for his mind.