Science

Hawking auction raises astronomical sum

An early edition of A Brief History of Time marked with a thumbprint.

An early edition of A Brief History of Time marked with a thumbprint.   | Photo Credit: AFP

A copy of Stephen Hawking’s doctorate thesis signed in a shaky hand was the highlight of an auction of the British physicist’s personal items in London, which raised nearly £1.4 million.

The copy, one of only five originals of the thesis entitled ‘Properties of expanding universes’, smashed pre-sale expectations four times over to sell for £5,84,750 at the Christie’s sale, which ended on Thursday.

A red leather wheelchair that Hawking used from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, driving himself using a joystick, sold for £2,96,750, while an early edition of his bestselling book A Brief History of Time marked with a thumbprint, fetched £68,750.

Hawking published his thesis in 1965, two years after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor-neurone disease that would eventually leave him paralysed.

His first wife Jane typed out the 117 pages but he added two hand-written signatures and the words “This dissertation is my original work” at the front, as well as several mathematical equations inside.

When the document was made available online last year by Cambridge University, where Hawking spent his career, it was so popular that it crashed the website.

A collection of his medals and awards, including honours from the Royal Astronomical Society, sold for £296,750, with the entire collection achieving £1,384,625.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 12:02:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/hawking-auction-raises-astronomical-sum/article25457469.ece

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