If any of you tech savvy readers are looking for a gig, Stephen Hawking is apparently in the market for a right-hand man/woman. The Stephen Hawking website posted a job opening last Thursday for a Technical Assistant.
The famous British theoretical physicist and cosmologist is well-known to us lay folk through his series of popular science books like A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell. The 69-year-old Hawking is also well-known for both his motor neurone disease which has left him almost paralyzed, as well as the voice synthesizer system that was built for him after a Tracheotomy robbed him of his ability to speak.
The post stresses that this is a strictly technical position to allow Hawking to continue his work, and is not for those looking to study physics. The Technical Assistant will be basically like Batman’s Alfred, and need a wide range of skills. Candidates will need to schedule and mange travel for Hawking, as well as prepare lecture materials, maintain his wheelchairs, and deal with the media and press. Candidates can’t be shy as they’ll need to speak to large audiences as well as show other people how to use complex systems. Travel, both national and international, is expected to carve out 3 months of the year.
Then there’s the tech aspect of the job. Candidates will need to be handy; they’ll need to know electronics and be computer literate. They will be maintaining Hawkings “black box”system without any any help or instruction manual.The Verge points out that the computer system Professor Hawking uses to communicate with uses a Lenovo Thinkpad T60 running Windows XP. It also has 3G for continuous internet access and a universally programmable infra-red remote attached to the system. The remote allows him to work his TV and appliances as well as turn on lights and open doors at work.
The official Technical Assistant posting should be available in mid-January, and the start date would be towards the end of February next year. The current positing isn’t an official application, just a warm-up. The salary will be funded as a research post at the University of Cambridge, will at the least run for 12 months and is expected to be around £25,000 (roughly $38,000) annually.