When the cosmologist Stephen Hawking published A Brief History of Time in 1988, he quickly became the world’s most famous physicist. In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast we talk to science writer Charles Seife about his new book, a biography of the late cosmologist entitled Hawking Hawking: the Selling of a Scientific Celebrity, in which he controversially claims that Hawking’s fame stemmed not from his science — but his mastery at self-promotion.
Our other guest this week is Harry Westfahl Jr, director of Latin America’s only synchrotron light source. Sirius, the new storage ring light at the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory, is one of the most advanced synchrotron light sources in the world. Westfahl Jr discusses Sirius’s first year of operation, the experiments being performed at the synchrotron and what we can expect next. He also describes the challenges of starting up a major scientific facility in the middle of a pandemic.
- Charles Seife was interviewed by Physics World’s Laura Hiscott, who has also written a review of his book: How Stephen Hawking became the world’s most famous physicist.