Stephen Hawking

Hawking, Stephen

physicist (1942-2018). Autograph letter signed ('Stephen') to Bill Cleghorn. [postmarked Cambridge, 26 April 1968]. 1½ pages, 245 x 205mm, airmail letter.
$ 193,710 / 165.000 € (78397)

Hawking writes to a childhood friend with happy personal news, along with reports of a trip to America and an uneasy professional detente with the astronomer Fred Hoyle. He apologises for the delay in writing, explaining 'We are at the moment on holiday in Cornwall staying in a very attractive cottage owned by the National Trust at St. Anthony-in-Roseland. The Roseland refers not to the flora but to the colour of the soil'. As Bill may or may not know, 'we now have a son, Robert, aged 10 months and very attractive – at least, we think so and other people seem to agree.

When he was six weeks old we took him to America where we saw John McC[lenahan] and family. He seem[s] reasonably happy but a bit homesick and proclaimed his intention of coming back to work in England a year from now. Whether he will be able to support a wife and three sons to American standards on an English salary I am not so sure'. Turning to his nascent professional career, news of a new job is evidently tinged with certain misgivings: 'Although I wrote my first paper attacking Hoyle's theory of gravity, I have now got a job at his Institute of Theoretical Astronomy. Quite how it will work out I don't know but my present work does not impinge on his so I hope to avoid a collision. Anyway, it means a considerable increase in salary'. Stephen Hawking attended St Albans School from the age of ten, falling in with a close-knit group of bright boys whose shared interests ranged from inventing their own board games and listening to classical music to long bicyle rides in the Hertfordshire countryside. Bill Cleghorn was one of the group, along with Hawking's best friend at that time, John McClenahan; the boys spent nearly every moment together, between completing long hours of school and homework and spending time at one another's houses, and their friendships endured beyond their school days, after the group found their separate ways to universities, new jobs and their own families. In 1968, three years after achieving his doctorate, Hawking had applied to work at the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy at Cambridge, founded by the renowned Yorkshire astronomer Fred Hoyle the year before. He was awarded the post, but might yet have been justified in the sense of unease he felt about working under his new director: Hawking had gained a degree of academic notoriety at Cambridge following a public challenge of Hoyle, the man he once hoped might supervise his doctoral thesis, and his student Jayant Narlikar during a lecture in 1964. Autograph letters by Hawking are exceedingly rare. Provenance: offered by the recipient..

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Hawking, Stephen

theoretical physicist (1942-2018). Typed letter signed ("Stephen") to Charles W. Misner. Cambridge. 4to. (197:244 mm). 1 page. On headed "air letter" paper.
$ 76,310 / 65.000 € (77560/BN50010)

One of Hawking’s students, Gary Gibbons, is to attend the meeting of the American Physical Society in New Orleans from 23-25 November, ‘where he will report on the British work on the design and construction of gravitational wave detectors. We think that, without the use of liquid helium, we can improve the sensitivity by a factor of 100. The first of these detectors should be operating before the end of the year, and the second one at Reading should follow soon after’. Hawking hopes that Gary might stay on after the New Orleans meeting to attend the relativistic astrophysics conference in Austin, with a visit to the University of Maryland in between, and asks for Misner’s help in organising this visit: [Joseph] Weber will be too busy to show Gibbons around, but Hawking notes that Gary should really see Misner and [Dieter] Brill: ‘he is primarily a theoretician and is interested in the problem of how much gravitational radiation would be emitted by a collapsing object’.

Hawking also announces the birth of a little girl, ‘Catherine Lucy, though we will probably call her Lucy’, born a little plumper than Robert, and very well behaved. - In 2016, over 45 years after Stephen Hawking’s hopeful mention in the present letter of the gravitational wave detectors being built in England - and one hundred years after Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves - scientists would finally have proof of these elusive ripples in space-time: the unmistakeable ‘ringing’ as two black holes collides was heard at the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) on 11 February 2016. When asked for comment, Hawking said that the discovery would ‘revolutionise’ astronomy, noting also that it had proved his calculations of 1970 to be correct: ‘The observed properties of this system are consistent with predictions about black holes that I made in 1970 here in Cambridge’. Hawking and his student Gary Gibbons would go on to collaborate in their research, lending their names to the "Gibbons-Hawking effect", "Gibbons-Hawking space", and the "Gibbons-Hawking ansatz". - Provenance: Charles W. Misner..

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Hawking, Stephen

theoretical physicist (1942-2018). A Brief History of Time. From the Big Bang to Black Holes. New York. 8vo (230 x 153mm). Text illustrations. Publisher's black quarter cloth, blue pictorial dustjacket.
$ 21,132 / 18.000 € (77562/BN50012)

First American edition with authorial thumbprint of Hawking's bestselling science classic. A fine copy, 'signed' with an authorial thumbprint on front free endpaper. - Provenance: Judy Fella (Hawking's first secretary, and later PA and nursing coordinator: Fella worked with Hawking on the first draft of "A Brief History of Time").

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