Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Stephen Haw "King"?

  1. Nov 13, 2014 #1
    I like Stephen Hawking, and appreciate his challenges in life and his contributions to physics, but really not any more than the other physics hero's of mine, that includes the old school crew we all know and love, and even some of the contemporary "pop" physicists. However, I know more about Stephen Hawkings personal life than all of the others combined, and I didn't even seek to do so. It's just like you can't avoid it. I got enough of it from the dozens of documentaries he's been featured in even before the major twin TV series he hosted, "Grand Design" and "Into the Universe."


    Those were Ok, but nothing stellar in my opinion (pardon the pun).

    Now we've got a major motion picture coming out about him, "Theory of everything?" Again? What about the film "Hawking" in 2004? Didn't that tell already the whole story? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_(2004_film)


    There was even another major film bio done on him last year with same title: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_(2013_film)

    Am I the only one that has had just about enough of this Hawking hero worship? I mean, we got the point already Stephen. How about we embrace a little humility and spend less time making feature films about ourselves and more time doing good physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I think any celebration of Scientists in mainstream media is a good thing. For many viewers it'll be some of their only exposure to the world of science, however sensationalised/dramatised it is.
  4. Nov 13, 2014 #3
    Well, celebration is one thing, overdoing it is another. I'm not saying I don't think Hawkings' story isn't a fascinating or relevant one, I just don't think all this hoopla is going to be great for his legacy. I think it actually may have the opposite intended effect. Look at Feynman. Certainly he didn't face the challenges that Hawking has had and still does, but he had some serious unforseen health issues for the greater part of a decade before he died and did the best he could to stay out of the limelight (as far as I'm aware). He was more interested in letting his science speak for itself in terms of his legacy, and I think that paid off. He was reluctant even to receive the Nobel prize and all the fanfare that surrounded that, and would rather have not received it. I can't imagine him feeling comfortable with the attention Hawking gets and having multiple feature films made about him. I think this goes for Einstein as well, although he did want the Nobel prize (only to pay of Mileva and get her out of his hair, though :p)
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  5. Nov 13, 2014 #4
    If a movie-maker sees a chance to make a profit, he'll likely take the opportunity to do so. This sounds like an easy low-budget film that can make a few bucks. Special effects would be spinning equations or a black hole animation. By the end of the movie, the actor doesn't even have to know any lines.
  6. Nov 13, 2014 #5
    I don't know, I've seen the previews and the premise/plot doesn't look any different than the 2004 movie. How could it, it's a biography. But we'll see. Maybe there's a new twist on it..
  7. Nov 13, 2014 #6
    This has me thinking of making my own Stephen Hawking movie. A new twist, yea, I have to think of that.
  8. Nov 13, 2014 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    dirac, this is about his wife's book, not about Stephen.

  9. Nov 14, 2014 #8
    It got good reviews on rotten tomatoes. Looks like more of a love story than a science story, so it seems this is the version that's fit for the masses. I suppose I'll reserve judgement until I see it, Peter Travers liked it, and I'm usually one for one with his picks. I've just seen so many documentaries on Hawking I don't know what else I could know about him, or his wife, she's a seminal feature of most of the documentaries as well.
  10. Nov 14, 2014 #9
    I think you're exaggerating the level of exposure he gets. You're part of a group that will naturally hear more about them then the average person, who probably only knows him as the wheelchair black hole guy. Just like they think Einstein was the best mathematician ever who failed math and actually said all those yearbook quotes.
  11. Nov 14, 2014 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I agree with this.. This year is the year of 3 very interesting science-related movies: Stephen Hawking's, Alan Turing's and Interstellar... I wonder how that will affect the interest for science (physics and math mainly) courses..
  12. Nov 14, 2014 #11
    I don't know if I do agree with this. It is an interesting question, kind of a nature versus nurture one. I think the average person from the USA at least is exposed to plenty of science from several avenues, school, science channel, NASA, History, etc. from cable, and especially the internet. I'm going more for "nature." If you're scientifically minded, you're gonna pick up the bug from one of a number of these varied introductions, and most likely at a young age. I don't think you're going to see waves of adult "re-entry" students quitting their day jobs in order to take physics classes at the local community college because they went to see "Gravity" or "Theory of everything." That doesn't mean I don't feel that the more science-based movies on the big screen the better, I do, it's just that I don't think that, as Billy_joule said:

    I think the average person is exposed to quite a bit of science. The exposure is not the problem. It's the interest.

    Btw, what is this Alan Turing movie you're talking about? That's kind of my whole point here. I would go see a feature movie on Turing in a heartbeat, because I haven't been saturated with media and documentaries on him. I chose the name DiracPool as my handle a couple years back because I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the book, "The strangest man" by Farmello: https://www.amazon.com/The-Strangest-Man-Hidden-Mystic/dp/0465022103

    Part of the hype behind the book was that it was one of a very few deep looks into this pivotal figure in physics. I'd much rather see a feature film made about him or one of the many other popular media unsung physics giants than another film bio on Hawkings.

    Edit: Oh, I almost forgot, if you're going to order the book, do it through PhysicsForums ;)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  13. Nov 14, 2014 #12


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    They may be exposed to it but results like the link below shows that that exposure isn't having much effect...

    And I'm not sure how much good the programming on discovery et al is. I don't have a TV but last time I watched it it was full of garbage reality shows, ghost hunting, mermaids, dragons etc

    Media is saturated with absolute rubbish IMO, anything vaguely related to good science is very welcome in my books.
  14. Nov 14, 2014 #13
    That is a disturbing article, I thought Halloween was over..

    There is a good amount of that garbage, granted, but that's most on the History channel. I "cut the cord" last summer myself, but I used to watch the science channel quite a bit, and there was some good programming on there. That's where I ran into Hawking's "the grand design" and "into the universe." Along with, of course, "Through the wormhole." Sure, these are pop treatments of science, but I personally enjoy them and actually think they are the best hope of perhaps getting the lay person more interested in science, because they have a lot of cheese and pizzaz, but there's enough hard science in there to make you feel a little smarter when the program is over, again, if you're not already experienced in the subject.

    And again, that's exactly my point, what are you trying to say, that Theory of everything is going to be "vaguely related to good science?" Again, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I doubt there's going to be much good science in it. I think you'd be better off watching The Grand Design on the Science channel.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook