Stephen Hawking as man and machine

Stephen Hawking FLICKR

Tuesday marked Stephen Hawking's 71st birthday, an occasion that anthropologist Hélène Mialet commemorated with a fantastic essay about the legendary physicist's place in history and popular culture. At the core of Mialet's essay is the question of whether history will remember Hawking as man, or the machine to which he has been inextricably linked — and what that says about contemporary society.

"What I discovered was that to understand Hawking, you had to understand the people and the machines without whom he would be unable to act and think," she writes. "You had to understand the ways in which these entities augmented and amplified Hawking’s competencies."

The Verge
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.