On the first floor of the Science Museum is the Measuring Time exhibition. A showcase of technological advances over the ages ranging from sundials to wristwatches, it provides a brief but absorbing history of timekeeping.
© Science Museum / Sarah Lee
It is fitting, then, that the London venue is now launching a display to mark the 70th birthday of the author of one of the most famous scientific works of recent years, A Brief History of Time, later this month.
Professor Stephen Hawking was born on January 8 1942 and was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at the age of 21. He has authored several books, scientific papers and still lectures at Cambridge University, despite only being capable of speaking 15 words per minute.
Stephen Hawking: A 70th Birthday Celebration will include specially recorded audio by the astro-physicist, as well as previously unseen photographs from his personal archives.
Director of External Affairs Roger Highfield says the museum is "extremely honoured and proud" to host the display.
"Professor Hawking has wrestled with the origin of time and the universe and made many fundamental contributions to cosmology," he adds.
"On top of that, he has done more than anyone else I can think of to popularise these extraordinary ideas, inspiring both the public and the next generation of scientists."
The Science Museum, which opened an exhibition by another great, albeit older, British scientist with their James Watt and our World exhibition in March 2011, has been described by Hawking as "one of my favourite places."
It is hoped the display will encourage visitors to reflect on the relationship between Hawking’s scientific achievements, particularly the work which established his reputation in the 1960s and 70s, and his success in popularising astrophysics.
- Runs January 20 until April 13. Admission free.