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Science and technology Updated: 10 Nov 2016

Hawking: “This is the first recognition bestowed on me for my work on galaxy formation"

British physicist Stephen Hawking received the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award for his work on galaxy formation. On the occasion of BBVA’s executive chairman visit to Cambridge to hand him the award, Hawking remarked that this was the first recognition bestowed on him for his work on galaxy formation and stated his optimism regarding the future of mankind.

Although professor Hawking will participate via a live satellite link in the Frontiers Awards ceremony on June 21, he will be unable to travel to Madrid due to health-related reasons. For this reason, the President of the BBVA Foundation paid him a visit at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Mathematical Studies, to personally hand him the award, which he shares with Russian colleague Viatcheslav Mukhanov.

“Professor Hawking represents the values of hard work, creativity, strength in the face of adversity and dedication to the advancement of knowledge. His research on the Universe and the formation of galaxies has reshaped cosmology,” remarked Francisco González.

Hawking expressed his satisfaction at sharing the award with Mukhanov, adding that “this is the first recognition bestowed on me for my work on galaxy formation.”

During their encounter, the BBVA Foundation President inquired about Hawking’s views on the role of science and technology on today’s society.

“Scientific research is checked for consistency with experimental and observational data. And we need more intellectual rigor like this in public life to help us with global challenges,” the physicist replied.

Hawking: "We need more intellectual rigor like this in public life to help us with global challenges

The world’s most renowned scientist expressed his conviction that the big questions that humanity faces “must be answered. And this will also need a new generation interested, engaged, and with an understanding of science.”

“How will we feed an ever growing population, provide clean water, generate renewable energy and slow down global climate change?" wondered Hawking.

A self-proclaimed optimist about the future of humanity, he believes that "science and technology will provide the answers to these questions, but it will take people, human beings with knowledge and understanding, to implement the solutions.”

Francisco González presents Stephen Hawking with Frontiers of Knowledge Award

The Seeds of Galaxies

The jury of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Basic Sciences category distinguished Stephen Hawking and Viatcheslav Mukhanov for discovering that galaxies were formed from quantum fluctuations in the Universe’s earliest days.

At the start of the 1980s, Hawking and Mukhanov came to the same, independent conclusion: that quantum fluctuations in the newborn Universe, just fractions of a second into expansion, acted as seeds that would eventually grow into the galaxies.

Against all expectations, since no one then believed it possible, the existence of these microscopic fluctuations was experimentally validated in the year 2013.