Hawking to Perimeter?

The Canadian press today is putting out the story that Stephen Hawking may be abandoning Cambridge to move permanently to the Perimeter Institute, where he would join recently appointed director Neil Turok, as well as Lenny Susskind.

From the stories it appears that Hawking plans to visit Perimeter next year for a month or so, and that he hasn’t actually made any decision about a permanent move.

For more, see here, here, here, and here.

According to Sam Blackburn, an assistant of Hawking’s, Hawking is just mulling the idea over with no move imminent, but he is “obviously a man of few words so the first we would probably know of it is when he packs his bags.”

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15 Responses to Hawking to Perimeter?

  1. anon. says:

    Exciting news. BTW, from the first link you gave, there is a link to a new exciting string claims by Michio Kaku in the 16 July Spirituality section of The Times of India:


    “… String theory can be applied to the domain where relativity fails, such as the centre of a black hole, or the instant of the Big Bang. … The melodies on these strings can explain chemistry. The universe is a symphony of strings. The “mind of God” that Einstein wrote about can be explained as cosmic music resonating through hyperspace. … String theory predicts that the next set of vibrations of the string should be invisible, which can naturally explain dark matter. … when we get to know the “DNA” of the universe, i.e. string theory, then new physical applications will be discovered. Physics will follow biology, moving from the age of discovery to the age of mastery.”

    (I respect him for now making such claims in the “Spirituality” section, rather than making them in the science section as usual.)

  2. jhk says:

    Hawking is probably just using this as leverage in his salary negotiations with Cambridge.

  3. Coin says:

    Hm. My understanding was that Stephen Hawking was mostly a teacher or lecturer these days, whereas Perimeter is a research institution. I ask this purely out of ignorance– is Stephen Hawking really someone to be considered a particularly active researcher right now? Would a move to Perimeter, assuming he’s actually considering it, likely mean a move toward a greater focus on research on his part?

  4. Peter Woit says:


    Actually Hawking has always been and continues to be more of a researcher than a teacher or lecturer. He has several recent papers on the “no boundary proposal”, and is involved in the all-too-active hot subject of how to count universes…

  5. Coin says:

    Alright, thanks.

  6. Anon says:

    One should bear in mind that Hawking reaches Cambridge’s retirement age in six months’ time. The last person to retire from his position, Paul Dirac, chose to move to Florida, so a transatlantic move would not be unprecedented.

  7. Chris W. says:

    A few more specifics on what Hawking has been up to lately:

    See arxiv.org/0803.1663 and this popular account. Note his co-authors.)

  8. Marion Delgado says:

    Chris W:

    Is homeopathy as internally consistent as string theory, I wonder?

    Also the competing medical theories covering the same ground as homeopathy are much more robust than, say, twistors or LQG are compared to string theory.

  9. Chris W. says:


    My comment was a joke. If it’s going to be taken as a knock against anything, the knock can be considered to be directed at Kaku, who seems to have misplaced whatever taste he might have had. With friends like this, string theory doesn’t need enemies.

    (Speaking of Hindu spirituality [of a sort], I wonder if the TM crowd still employs references to string theory, as they used to do when John Hagelin still had an academic career.)

  10. Marion Delgado says:

    Chris W:

    Sorry, my response was sort of idle musing. I was thinking very much of the “bottom up” organizing theories and Smolin’s account of how they let people like Capra run away with themselves.

    It was not really intended as a rejoinder.

  11. stevem says:

    There was a 2-part program on Hawking and his work
    on UK tv recently. It is posted on youtube (in 10 parts or segments) if anyone is interested. In this segment (at 7.10) check out the eerie music with six Ed Wittens sitting at a table.


  12. mathphys says:

    Is Hawking still married to his (second) wife? I ask because their marriage was also the subject of headlines news a couple of years ago.

  13. John D says:

    I delete a lot of the comments posted here, often especially ones critical of string theory, on the grounds that they aren’t saying anything either new or relevant to the posting, just adding noise to this comment section. What follows is one of these which I’ve repeatedly deleted, but “John Dee” has more time available to waste than I do, so I have to give up. Please do me a big favor by not responding to off-topic comments from “John Dee” or anyone else. It’s a continual struggle to try and stop the comment section here from being dominated by pointless off-topic comments like this one, a struggle that on some days recently I’ve just about decided to give up on, shutting down this section or turning it into a purely moderated one. Also fun to deal with is the deluge of spam comments (the counter says 43,382 such in the last two years), many of which look much like the “real” comments…. OK, I’ll stop complaining now.

    «when we get to know the “DNA” of the universe, i.e. string theory, then new physical applications will be discovered. Physics will follow biology, moving from the age of discovery to the age of mastery.»

    Anyone suggesting that Physics should resemble Biology more is seriously misguided. If anything biology should turn into a more quantifiable/predictable field instead of mainly an ad-hoc collection of barely related data.

    This multiverse fad is turning Physics into Biology. Getting hard predictions is getting increasingly more difficult and data is getting more and more unrelated with contrived “solutions” created just to save face.

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