Stephen Hawking wins lucrative science prize

Tuesday 11 December 2012 16.42
The theoretical physicist plans to spend his windfall on his daughter's son and possibly a holiday home
The theoretical physicist plans to spend his windfall on his daughter's son and possibly a holiday home

Professor Stephen Hawking has been named as one of the first recipients of a new, lucrative science prize.

The £1.8m (€2.3m) Special Fundamental Physics Prize was established earlier this year by a Russian billionaire.

Britain's most famous theoretical physicist says he plans to spend his windfall on his daughter's autistic son and "maybe" a holiday home.

Prof Hawking and a team of scientists who led the hunt for the Higgs boson mass particle received separate prizes worth $3m each.

The former Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, who is severely disabled with motor neurone disease, earned his prize for a lifetime of achievement unravelling the mysteries of quantum gravity and the early universe.

In particular, the award recognised his discovery of Hawking radiation, a quantum effect that allows black holes to "evaporate" by emitting particles.

The Special Fundamental Physics Prize is one of several awards set up by Yuri Milner, a Russian internet mogul who abandoned his PhD in physics to make a fortune from the web.

In an email sent to the Guardian newspaper last night, Prof Hawking said he was "delighted and honoured".

He added: "No-one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no-one knew before.

"Nevertheless, prizes like these play an important role in giving public recognition for achievement in physics. They increase the stature of physics and interest in it."