Hawking Hawking : the selling of a scientific celebrity

by Seife, Charles,

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 2 copies
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Crafton Public Library Adult - Non-Fiction 530.092 SEIFE 2021 CRAFTON 04/21
Location  Crafton Public Library
Collection  Adult - Non-Fiction
Call Number  530.092 SEIFE 2021 CRAFTON 04/21
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Location  Northern Tier Regional Library
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Stephen Hawking was widely recognized as the world's best physicist and even the most brilliant man alive-but what if his true talent was self-promotion?

When Stephen Hawking died, he was widely recognized as the world's best physicist, and even its smartest person.

He was neither.

In Hawking Hawking, science journalist Charles Seife explores how Stephen Hawking came to be thought of as humanity's greatest genius. Hawking spent his career grappling with deep questions in physics, but his renown didn't rest on his science. He was a master of self-promotion, hosting parties for time travelers, declaring victory over problems he had not solved, and wooing billionaires. In a wheelchair and physically dependent on a cadre of devotees, Hawking still managed to captivate the people around him--and use them for his own purposes.

A brilliant exposé and powerful biography, Hawking Hawking uncovers the authentic Hawking buried underneath the fake. It is the story of a man whose brilliance in physics was matched by his genius for building his own myth.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Hailed as a new Newton, Stephen Hawking stunned colleagues when he agreed to accept a popular bookie's invitation to make a prediction on England's chances in the 2014 World Cup. In Hawking's headline-grabbing venture as a sports prognosticator, Seife discerns just one of the deeply problematic consequences of the brilliant scientist's zealous pursuit of celebrity. To be sure, readers learn of Hawking's pathbreaking achievements as a theoretical physicist pioneering the big bang theory and advancing conceptual understanding of black holes. But Seife's focus is not on Hawking as a powerful scientist but, rather, on Hawking as a dazzling public image, a cultural icon. Readers see how that image develops, becoming that of a secular saint, as millions begin to view the wheelchair-bound ALS sufferer as a superhuman mind defying his body's physical constraints. However, in Seife's view, that image of quasi-sainthood actually obscured a flawed human being, one whose arrogant callousness destroyed his marriage and family. Seife even avers that Hawking's celebrityhood interfered with his scientific work as it weakened ties with colleagues and drew him into mass-media venues, where he could promulgate sensational doomsday musings on aliens and artificial intelligence. The outrage this book will generate among Hawking's admirers will pique the interest of the curious."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Journalist Seife (Virtual Unreality) takes a convoluted look at the life of physicist and renowned science communicator Stephen Hawking (1942--2018). Seife makes the case that despite the glowing press Hawking received, he was neither the world's preeminent physicist nor a particularly talented writer. Instead, "he was a brand." Nodding to Hawking's passion for theories of time travel, Seife tells his story in reverse order, beginning with Hawking's death and rewinding to his birth. Seife covers Hawking's education at Cambridge University, his first wife Jane's memoirs, and tabloid coverage of his "sexual outings in California." Unfortunately, Seife's telling in reverse is more gimmicky than instructive, despite Seife's claim that "the life of Stephen Hawking becomes clearer as time moves backward, as the accumulated layers of celebrity and legend are stripped away." That Seife recognizes the problems with this approach is clear from the frequency with which he alerts readers that pertinent information will appear in later chapters, from earlier in Hawking's life. Seife also isn't always successful in translating high-level physics into accessible terms ("The Feynman path integral method works in a manifold that has a Euclidian geometry," for example). Readers will gain a glimpse into the life of a larger-than-life scientist, even if Seife doesn't bring a lot new to the table. (Apr.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Hawking, Stephen, -- 1942-2018.
Physicists -- Great Britain -- Biography.
Publisher New York :2021
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description x, 388 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 9781541618374
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