Elon Musk has been selected as one of the recipients of the 2019 Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication, an award created in honor of the legendary theoretical physicist for individuals who promote the public awareness of science. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO will be receiving the Stephen Hawking medal at the Starmus Festival this coming June in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication is a prestigious award in the scientific community, having been introduced back in 2015 at the Royal Society in London by a panel including the theoretical physicist himself. The medal honors individuals from three communities: the scientific community, the artistic community, and the film community. When he personally presented the medals at the Starmus Festival in June 2016, Hawking noted that the award “matters to me, to you, to the world as a whole.”
Elon Musk will be receiving the Stephen Hawking medal for the scientific community for his “astounding accomplishments in space travel and for humanity,” according to Starmus in a press release. Starmus founding member and PhD astrophysicist Brian May will be personally presenting the medal to Musk, who has been described by noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins as a “hero for our times.”
Other recipients of the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication this year are musician Brian Eno for his contribution to the popularisation of science, as well as Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary Apollo 11, which provides a “breakthrough look” at the mission that brought man to the Moon.
The upcoming Starmus Festival is expected to be graced by some of the scientific community’s most prolific individuals. Educator Bill Nye will be the host of the ceremonies, and other notable individuals such as Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins and six other Apollo mission astronauts will be in attendance. Sir Michael Hintze, founder and Group Executive Chairman of asset management firm CQS and one of the supporters on Starmus, shared his excitement for this year’s awards.
“I am excited about our support for Starmus and the 2019 Stephen Hawking Medal. It is enabling us to better understand the origins and fate of our universe, where we have come from and where we might go. It is about intellectual curiosity, striving for knowledge and a journey of discovery about our planet and our place in the universe. For science to grow and prosper we must excite and engage with our youth, and capture their imagination. The work being done here connects into the global scientific community and facilitates global collaboration,” he said.
This year’s awards are the first to be given since the death of Stephen Hawking, who personally invited Musk to Starmus prior to his passing. Starmus noted that this year’s awards are dedicated to the legacy of Hawking, and they are given in recognition of his affinity for applied technology.
Elon Musk is a polarizing figure in mainstream media today partly due to his celebrity CEO status and the public nature of his electric car and energy company, Tesla. Nevertheless, Musk has received numerous accolades over the years. Just this past January, Musk was dubbed as “Disruptor of the Year” for making the most ripples in the auto industry. Last year, Musk was also named as one of 2018’s best CEOs by Tesla and SpaceX employees, most likely due to his bold, hands-on leadership style.
During the days of the Model 3 ramp, for example, Musk courted some headlines after he was sighted torquing bolts with Tesla’s workers during the rapid buildout of GA4. Musk also reportedly uses himself as Autopilot’s primary test subject, running aggressive test versions of the driver-assist system to check for bugs and the limits of the system’s capabilities. A member of Tesla’s Autopilot team previously noted that this has resulted in Musk finding himself in “situations that many of us wouldn’t want to be in.”