Canada’s profile in the international physics community got a huge boost Thursday as renowned “superstar” cosmologist Stephen Hawking accepted a research post at the country’s “crown jewel” of theoretical physics study.
Hawking will hold the title of distinguished research chair at the prestigious Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The role will see him make regular visits to Waterloo, Ont. beginning next summer.
“The appointment marks a new phase in our recruitment that will see leading scientists from around the world establish a second research home at Perimeter Institute,” said institute director Neil Turok.
“I am delighted that Stephen has agreed to accept the first of a projected 40 such visiting chairs.”
Shelley Page, the president of the Canadian Association of Physicists, said it’s an exciting development for the physics community and for the country as a whole to have such a great mind coming to Canada.
“He’s one of the few sort of recognized physics superstars,” Page said.
“Stephen Hawking is probably one of the most famous contemporary theoretical physicists. He’s sort of a household name, which is a feat in and of itself in such an abstract and theoretical discipline.”
Having someone like Hawking associated with the Perimeter Institute, which Page called the “crown jewel in our theoretical physics resource portfolio,” will serve to increase Canada’s standing in the global physics community.
“That will just further help to attract even more prestigious international theorists to work in Canada,” she said.
Rumours in the summer that Hawking would be moving to Canada were discounted by his aides at the time.
The famed cosmologist will retire from his prestigious post at Cambridge University next year.
Hawking, 66, is currently Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the famed British university, a title once held by the great 18th-century physicist Isaac Newton.
He became a scientific celebrity through his theories on black holes and the nature of time, work that he carried on despite becoming paralyzed by motor neurone disease.
His 1988 book “A Brief History of Time” was an international bestseller; “A Briefer History of Time,” intended to be more accessible, followed in 2005.
Hawking first earned prominence for his theoretical work on black holes. Disproving the belief that black holes are so dense that nothing could escape their gravitational pull, he showed that black holes leak a tiny bit of light and other types of radiation, now known as Hawking radiation.
The Perimeter Institute is a research centre devoted to theoretical physics that was founded in 1999 by Research In Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis.
– The Canadian Press