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The Sciences

The Private Side of Stephen Hawking


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NEW YORK, NY, December 2008 ---- Despite being the most famous physicist in the world—and one of our Discover 50 award winners—Hawking rarely appears before the camera, in part because he is almost totally immobilized by ALS. Editor-in-chief Corey S. Powell and noted photographer Mackenzie Stroh flew to England to capture Hawking in his element in a Cambridge University math classroom.

“The most surprising thing was how expressive Hawking is. He didn’t need his voice synthesizer to indicate ironic amusement at all the fuss, or weariness when the shoot went on longer than he wanted; a roll of the eye or arch of the eyebrow conveyed his meanings perfectly,” Powell says. “At the end of the shoot he reviewed the photos and smiled approvingly. He clearly still gets a kick out of being a science superstar.”

The results show the master of black holes as he has never been seen before. “Mackenzie returned with what could easily be the best portrait of a contemporary Stephen Hawking,” says Rebecca Horne, DISCOVER’s photo editor. See for yourself (attached is a PDF if the cover).

Stroh and Powell are available for interviews.

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