Stephen Hawking: Lectures and Research

PROFESSOR STEPHEN HAWKING

Lectures and research

Lecture 1: Do Black Holes Have No Hair?

Lecture Two: Black holes ain’t as black as they are painted

About our partner

Genius, is often over-used, but in the case of Professor Stephen Hawking it is totally appropriate. Hawking was a physicist and international bestselling author who helped transform our understanding of the universe. We worked with Professor Hawking on two occasions to help him bring his theories to life.

The challenge

Our task was to make the strange and unfathomable world of black holes, more accessible to the general public. We took very complex and abstract ideas, and simplified them in a way people outside the scientific community could understand. We dug deep into our own imagination, used metaphors at every turn to help give meaning to what must be one of our most challenging explainer videos.

The films

The first two explainer films were made for BBC Radio 4 and the last for Stephen Hawking. Both occasions focused on the complex and challenging topic of black holes, and used a series of metaphors to create relatable reference points to open up this difficult subject.

We animated Hawking’s 2015 Reith Lectures, where he describes the rich history of scientific thought around black holes and alludes to the theory of supertranslations. Through these lectures Hawking peels back the layers of paradox, mystery and the implications of black holes on our understanding of the universe. These ‘whiteboard’ animations use both literal and metaphorical imagery with diagrams of quasars and paddling canoeists. The overall effect was to introduce these highly conceptual topics to the wider public in a way that enabled learning, understanding and discussion.

In 2018, we worked with the Hawking Foundation to help explain Professor Hawking’s final theory about supertranslations, in support of his final book Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Hawking explains a brief history of gravity and black holes before going onto explain the idea of supertranslations. Another information dense and challenging narrative, our whiteboard animation honoured and reflected the scientific explanations while bringing in other elements such as characters from popular fiction and black hole barbers to deliver this complicated information in a more accessible way.

The context

Find more information and Professor Hawking’s Reith Lectures here. For more information on Brief Answers to the Big Questions, visit the publisher's website here and read a blog written by Andrew Park on the creation of the film here.

Scrapbook

Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole Theory: Supertranslations