When your mind can take in the entire universe and your theories have revolutionised your field, what do you do? Appear on TV, of course. With Eddie Redmayne set to play Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, it’s worth looking back at some of the theoretical physicist’s real-life cameos and guest appearances over the years. He may work with black holes, but he’s the real star…
Star Trek: The Next Generation
If you’re a superintelligent android, it’s hard to find worthy poker opponents. Hell, without any emotions, your poker face is perfect. To that end, Data on The Next Generation took to playing against holographic versions of history’s greatest physicists: Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and, yes, Stephen Hawking. Apparently while touring the Enterprise set, Hawking sat in the Captain’s chair and got a few ideas from the ship’s warp core.
The Big Bang Theory
Sheldon Cooper finally met his mathematical match when Hawking appeared on The Big Bang Theory. Coop couldn’t wait to present his paper on the interaction of Blackholes and spacetime to the eminent scientist. Shame he made a basic adding error on page two. “It was quite the boner,” Hawking quipped, before Sheldon promptly fainted.
You might not think one of the world’s smartest men and Homer Simpson would have much in common, but then you would be a total moron. Hawking is a frequent guest star on The Simpsons, first showing up in They Saved Lisa’s Brain to put Springfield’s self-declared intelligentsia in their place. As well as making himself out to be a petty plagiarist (“Your theory of a donut-shaped universe is intriguing. I may have to steal it”) Hawking’s wheelchair also came with a few upgrades, including helicopter blades and a spring-loaded boxing glove.
Another show from the Matt Groening stable, but the nerdy, science-filled Futurama somehow seems a better fit for the man who conceived of hawking Radiation. Relatively speaking, of course. Hawking teams up with fellow geeks Al Gore and Nichelle Nichols to form the Vice Presidential Action Rangers, dedicated to saving the universe. Hawking was the murder-prone muscle of the group. In another episode, he shot lasers from his eyes. Don’t mess with Stephen Hawking.
Earlier this year, Hawking made a surprise cameo in Monty Python’s live show reunion at the O2 Arena in London. As seems to be a theme with his guest appearances, he showed his violent side: running over fellow boffin Brian Cox before gleefully bursting into a version of the Galaxy Song. He’s a very naughty physicist.
Late Night With Conan O’Brien
A meeting of minds. Two geniuses, united in their love of theoretical physics. Jim Carrey and Stephen Hawking wax lyrical about the new ekpyrotic universe theory. Don’t ask them to explain. Your pea brain won’t understand.