Britain’s Got – The New Cambridge University Lucasian Professor of Mathematics – Factor!


So news has come to me this week, that my old colleague, and drinking partner the physicist Stephen Hawking has completed his last day as Cambridge University’s Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. He has held the position since 1979.  Now as academically celebrated as this position is, it is to a much lesser known degree also something, of a chick magnet.

And didn’t Hawking know it.

Believe me, were it not for the university’s policy for holders of the title to retire at 67, he’d still be lording it up in front of us fellow scientists even now. Often would be the times he would phone me and leave messages about his latest conquest. I was always loathed to phone back, in part because you could never tell whether you got him or his damn voicemail.

Still every scientist’s time will come, as the search at the University begins anew for the next Lucasian Professor. Previous holders of the title, founded by MP Henry Lucas in 1663, include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage, Sir Joseph Larmor, Sir James Lighthill and on a temporary basis for two weeks in the summer of 1984 when Hawking fell ill, the University bent to popular demand and appointed the  somewhat unusual choice of pop singer George Michael, then, at the height of his fame with WHAM.

I understand the selection process has now gone under something of a shake up to reflect our more modern times. After all Hawking was  given the post some 30 years ago. With this in mind I have duely submitted my application this very morning. The review panel chosing the next Professor I am told will consist of four members of Cambridge’s scientific top brass and Mylene Klass.


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