Stephen Hawking turned down knighthood

 

Professor Stephen Hawking has revealed that he turned down the offer of a knighthood over 10 years ago.

The Birthday Honours List 2008, released to coincide with the Queen's official birthday, once again contained nothing for Hawking, which has been puzzling some observers for many years.

However, the scientist has released correspondence showing that he was approached with the offer of a knighthood over a decade ago but refused it on principle.

"Professor Hawking does not like titles. In fact he dislikes the whole concept of them," a spokesman told The Times.

Professor Hawking has also revealed correspondence showing harsh criticism of what he sees as the UK government's mismanagement of science funding.

He is particularly critical of the merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils.

The merger was badly managed, he says, leaving an £80m hole in the new Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) accounts.

"This bookkeeping error has disastrous implications. There is a possibility that very severe cuts will be made in the grants awarded to UK research groups, " he said at the time.

"These grants are the lifeblood of our research effort; cutting them will hurt young researchers and cause enormous damage to British science and our international reputation. They could well lead to several physics departments closing."

Professor Hawking maintained that these errors threatened the position of Britain in the scientific world and could harm research long into the future.

The STFC is already considering closing the famous Jodrell Bank observatory and sacking 600 scientists to help make up the shortfall.

However, Science Minister Ian Pearson insisted that Professor Hawking's conclusions were not correct.

"There was no deficit at the time of the merger, nor were there arithmetical errors," he said. "I can quite understand how those whose work is not funded may well question those who gave it a lower priority."

Copyright ©v3.co.uk


 
 
 
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