HomeTechnologyHis mysterious message left on a plaque has finally been deciphered

His mysterious message left on a plaque has finally been deciphered

If you are a fan of Stephen Hawking, his genius and his story, you no doubt know that he left a very enigmatic tablet that is still difficult to decipher. However, things could change very soon.

A mysterious message that speaks of him again

After dedicating his life to the mysteries of the cosmos, Professor Stephen Hawking left behind a mystery well known to his fans. The Cambridge cosmologist and famed physicist, who died in 2018 at the age of 76, treasured a plaque that has featured cartoons, doodles and equations since 1980. This painting was scrawled like this at a conference organized by Stephen Hawking in 1980 and it takes a long time to figure out the meaning of all the graffiti on the painting.

The plaque still full of mysteries during the ‘Stephen Hawking at Work’ exhibition.

For example, what does “symmetry of the stupor” mean? Who is the shaggy Martian drawn in large in the center of the painting? Why does a soft-nosed squid climb a wall? Above all, what’s inside the tin can labeled “Exxon Supergravity” a mystery that persists with no theoretical outline on the horizon to explain it?

But this plaque, which is as much an enigmatic work of art as it is a reminder of the history of physics, will be on display for the first time on Thursday as part of a collection of objects acquired by the Science Museum of London, our Guardian colleagues have revealed to us .

A chance to decrypt the message in question

Juan-Andres Leon, curator of Stephen Hawking’s office, hopes that people who have been invited to attend this exhibition (who are relatives of Stephen Hawking, or people who attended the conference on superspace and supergravity that pre more than 40 years ago in Cambridge) will help unravel the mysteries that persist on this tablet, particularly the mystery of “Exxon Supergravity”.

Note that the exhibit in question here is just some of the 700 or so objects sorted by the science museum staff. Finally, all the pieces are photographed and put online for everyone to see. Among the more unusual items is a small glass apple (a gift from Intel researchers and a nod to Hawking’s position as Lucasian Professor, the person in charge of the Cambridge Chair of Mathematics, a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton).

“We didn’t want the exhibition to be celebratory, full of paperclips and swirling galaxies etc. We wanted her to be playful,” said Juan-Andres Leon. “He didn’t take things too seriously and I don’t think he would have been the kind of celebrity he was if he didn’t have that spark of fun in him.”

The Stephen Hawking at Work exhibition is free and will be on view at the Science Museum in London until June 12 before moving on to the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, then the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and the National Railway York Goes Museum and Locomotion, County Durham, England. And if you want to know why Stephen Hawking understood better than anyone how black holes work, you can refer to our previous article on the subject.


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