Kip Thorne, formerly of the California Institute of Technology and a longtime collaborator of Hawking, spoke of a “new golden age” in the study of black holes.
Attending the birthday celebrations, Virgin chief executive Branson said it was “wonderful to be celebrating his 70th birthday, which in itself is remarkable. He should have won the Nobel prize many times.”
Hawking finished his statement, to a standing ovation, by saying that it had been a glorious time to be alive and be a researcher in theoretical physics.
“Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the past 40 years and I’m happy if I’ve made a small contribution. The fact that we humans — who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature — have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph,” he said.