Stephen Hawking launched a medal for science communication at a Dec. 16, 2015 press conference held at the Royal Society in London (UK). From a Dec. 16, 2015 news item on phys.org (Note: A link has been removed),
The “Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication” will be awarded to those who help promote science to the public through media such as cinema, music, writing and art.
“I’m happy to say I’m here today not to accept a medal but to announce one,” Hawking joked as he launched the medal at an event at the Royal Society, Britain’s de-facto academy of sciences.
“People worldwide display an incredible appetite of scientific information… The public want to know, they want to understand.”
The first medals will be awarded next summer in three different categories: the scientific, artistic and film communities.
The winners will be announced at the Starmus Festival, a gathering celebrating art and science in Spain’s Canary Islands that will take place from June 27 to July 2 next year .
There’s a Dec. 16, 2015 press release on the Starmus website (it’s a little repetitive but I hope not too much so),
A ground-breaking new award for science communication in honour of Professor Stephen Hawking was announced today at the Royal Society in London, by a panel including Prof. Hawking, the Starmus founding director Prof. Garik Israelian, Dr. Brian May [member of the band Queen and astrophysicist], Prof. Richard Dawkins [evolutionary biologist known for memes and atheism], Alexei Leonov and Nobel Laureate Sir Harold Kroto [one of the discoverers of buckminsterfullerenes, also known as, buckyballs or C60 or fullerenes].
The first of its kind, the Medal will recognize the work of those helping to promote the public awareness of science through different disciplines such as music, arts and cinema. Each year, three Medals will be awarded at the STARMUS International Science and Arts Festival in Tenerife.
The press release goes on to enumerate and quote a number of the dignitaries attending the press conference,
At today’s launch at the Royal Society in London, Stephen Hawking outlined his vision for science communication, saying:
‘By engaging with everyone from school children to politicians to pensioners, science communicators put science right at the heart of daily life. Bringing science to the people brings people into science. This matters to me, to you, to the world as a whole.
Therefore I am very pleased to support and honour the work of science communicators and look forward to awarding The Stephen Hawking Medal next summer at the Starmus Festival in Tenerife. I hope to see you all there.’
Professor Garik Israelian, founder of Starmus Festival, commented:
‘This award is a milestone in the history of science, spearheaded by one of the most famous scientists and inspiring figures of our time, Professor Stephen Hawking. As part of this tribute and our desire to bring science and space to the general public, Starmus has created a ground-breaking initiative under the name of one of the greatest scientists in history.’
In addition to this, Professor Israelian revealed that there will be ‘citizen participation through a public voting process on social media to decide the winner of The Starmus Science Communicator of the Year – Filmmaker category, inviting the general public to participate in the awards and make history.’
A portrait of Stephen Hawking by cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space, has formed the design of the Medal. Leonov commented:
‘Rarely is the life of the artist such a success and so I am very proud that my portrait of Sir Stephen Hawking, a historical figure of world importance, was chosen for this Medal. This Medal is not just a piece of paper, but a visible and tangible object that will inspire reflection for its winners. It is an honour for me.’
As well as the speakers panel unveiling the Medal, many special guests participated in the press conference, including Phantom of the Opera singer Sarah Brightman, having recently joined the Starmus music panel, and renowned composer Hans Zimmer.
Dara O’Briain, Prof. Brian Cox OBE and Prof. Kip Thorne were also in attendance, alongside representatives of the Canary Islands, privileged setting of the festival, including Managing Director of The Canary Islands Tourism Board, Ms. María Méndez, and the Councillor for Tourism in Tenerife, Mr. Alberto Bernabé, attended the presentation.
Here’s a video from the event,
I’m glad to see that science communication is going to enjoy some more recognition.
As for Starmus, the 2016 event being held from June 27 – July 2, 2016 in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain is a tribute to Stephen Hawking. The Starmus festival website’s homepage has this to say,
STARMUS Festival was born with the aim of making the most universal science and art accessible to the public.
Traditionally the perfect symbiosis between astronomy, art and music, STARMUS 2016 will bring together not only the brightest minds from these areas but many others besides, as we debate the future of humanity with scientists, business people at the cutting edge, and celebrities of all kinds.
Join us for an event in Tenerife that rises to a level where others fail!
That last line is a pretty bold statement. I wish the organizers all the best luck as they put the programme together and start attracting participants.