This year’s winners of the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication 2017 were announced yesterday at a press conference in New York. The winner of the science communicator award is astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The medal itself will be awarded on 20 June during the Starmus Science Festival in Trondheim.
Stephen Hawking, the astrophysicist who is also a best-selling author, is now deeply involved in recognizing outstanding examples of presenting science to the public. On 6 June, Hawking and the Starmus Science Festival announced three winners of the Stephen Hawking Communication Medal for outstanding science communication.
The 2017 winners are Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City, the American situation comedy The Big Bang Theory, and the French musician Jean-Michel Jarre.
Both Jarre and Tyson were present at an announcement of the award at deGrasse Tyson’s stomping grounds, Hayden Planetarium.
“Just what Trump promised voters”
Tyson is an engaged physicist and very popular research communicator whose latest book, “Astrophysics for people in a hurry” is currently number one on The New York Times best seller list.
He said Tuesday that he was not surprised that US President Donald Trump had withdrawn the United States from the Paris climate agreement. The United States Syria and Nicaragua, are the only countries that are not a part of the historic Paris agreement to protect the planet from dangerous global warming.
“That’s exactly what Donald Trump promised the voters,” Tyson said at the press conference, turning the responsibility to those who voted for Trump.
“In a free society, people must believe and think what they want. But who actually chose the person? Were they fully informed when they did? If they are, society has the right to make any decision it wants. If a country want to withdraw from the Paris agreement and does so with knowledge of the scientific consequences of it, then a free society gives that country the full right to do so. But if that action is taken without knowing the full consequences, then that’s the beginning of the end of an informed democracy,” Tyson said.
He believes that the people themselves must take responsibility for the politicians they elected to positions of power.
The Starmus Science Festival
NTNU is hosting Starmus, the world's most ambitious science festival.
• The festival combines social engagement and science.
• The festival will feature 11 Nobel Prize winners, 10 astronauts, and a total of 46 science stars.
• Academic superstar and music lover Stephen Hawking will give presentations.
• Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world's most important economists, will talk on how to survive Trump, climate change and global crises.
• One of the most quoted contemporary sociologists, Anthony Giddens, will present on "The digital revolution and the Future of world society."
• Three astronauts will share experiences from their moon landings and their thoughts about future space travel.
• Film director Oliver Stone (Natural Born Killers and Platoon) will participate in a debate with CNN talk show host Larry King.
• Steve Vai, Nuno Bettencourt, Ane Brun, David Zambuka, Grace Potter, Devin Townsend, the Trondheim Soloists and Trondheim Symphony Orchestra are on the list of artists.
A house of cards that will collapse
“If you bring people to power who does not understand the cause and effect of a decision, then the future looks like a house of cards – you can maybe create two floors, but the third is unstable and causes everything to collapse,” says Tyson.
During the Starmus festival he will moderate a debate between eleven Nobel Prize winners. He will also accept the Hawking medal, which includes 18-karat gold watch made by Omega. The festival, hosted by NTNU, runs from 18-23 June.
“I am looking forward to presenting the medals to the winners during the Starmus festival, during an official ceremony on June 20th in Trondheim – Norway’s scientific capital,” Stephen Hawking stated in a video greeting during the press conference.
The story continues under the video.
Books, music, TV
Tyson was selected for the award because of his exceptional and unique way of communicating science through his popular television shows, books, interviews and lectures. His contributions have helped to spread news about science all over the world, and has introduced many people enthusiasm and interest to many fields of science.
Jean-Michel Jarre was selected for the award because he has been a pioneer in electronic music for over 40 years. With over 80 million albums sold throughout the world, Jarre has not only become known for his music, but also for his vision and through his special outdoor concerts. His music is strongly connected to space.
The Big Bang Theory is an American situation comedy made by CBS / Warners Bros. Television. The series has had over 20 million viewers in recent years and is now its 11th season. The series revolves around particle physics, and four of the main characters have science-related jobs. Several science stars have been in the series, and many of them will come to Trondheim in June.