World renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking died in the early hours of March 14, 2018. His demise was met with grief and remembrance, a facet of which was his strong views on war and particularly his opposition to the Vietnam war. Thousands of people have shared a photograph which purportedly shows a young Stephen Hawking at an anti-Vietnam war protest. teleSUR, a Latin American based media outlet shared this picture on its Facebook page teleSUR English which has more than 400,000 followers.

“Here is a photo of a young Stephen Hawking (with the canes) in London marching against the war in Vietnam in 1969”, said the message along with the photograph. It has been shared more than 33,000 times at the time of writing. A disclaimer has now been added to the post that while the National Portrait Gallery claims that the person is Hawking, it has been claimed by Tariq Ali that he is not. Social media users across the world have shared this image today, paying tribute to Hawking’s thoughts and ideas.

Hawking hayatını kaybetmiş. Onu sadece fizik profesörü diye hatırlamak doğru değil. Bu fotoğrafta, ABD’nin Vietnam…

Posted by Emine Gul Malkoc on Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bir güzel trollenmişiz… 🙂 adamcağız 60’ların sonunda tekerlekli sandalyedeymiş.

Memlekette görmek isteyip…

Posted by Gonul Ekm on Wednesday, 14 March 2018

On Twitter, this image was retweeted more than 4300 times from the account @LukewSavage. It has now been deleted.

The young man in the photograph with the canes is NOT Stephen Hawking. This was confirmed by Pakistani writer and political activist Tariq Ali who is in the photograph that was taken in London in 1968. Actress Vanessa Redgrave who was a strong opponent of the Vietnam war too can be seen in this photo. Ali clarified this on his Facebook profile.


Sad that Stephen Hawking has left us…he opposed the Vietnam war and…

Posted by Tariq Ali on Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The National Portrait Gallery in London has also confirmed that the person in the picture is not Stephen Hawking. “The National Portrait Gallery apologizes that a sitter in a photograph taken at an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in London in October 1968 was previously mistakenly identified as Stephen Hawking,” a spokesperson at the National Portrait Gallery in London said. “The photographer, Lewis Morley indicated that Hawking was in the image but the Gallery has since ascertained that this was incorrect.”

Adding to the confusion is a video that is cited as evidence that Stephen Hawking was present at the protest that was organised at Grosvenor Square in London in March 1968. This video of the protest is available with British Pathé, a media company which has among the biggest video archives of the broadcasting industry and is considered an authentic source of information. Hawking was supposedly marching behind Tariq Ali. The website mentions that Hawking can be seen in the video at the 34-second mark, though only his head is visible. The video can be accessed here. From the video, we extracted the image of the person claimed to be Hawking. He can be seen standing behind Tariq Ali.

Alt News juxtaposed photographs from late 1960s of a young Stephen Hawking with the man in the picture to try and ascertain if it is indeed him. The two persons have different facial features.

This fake information has been in the public domain for a few years now. The Guardian, in a photo gallery posted in 2013 had mentioned the person as Stephen Hawking. Another website Louis Proyect too mentions the person with the canes as Hawking.

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About the Author

Arjun Sidharth is a writer with Alt News. He has previously worked in the television news industry, where he managed news bulletins and breaking news scenarios, apart from scripting numerous prime time television stories. He has also been actively involved with various freelance projects. Sidharth has studied economics, political science, international relations and journalism. He has a keen interest in books, movies, music, sports, politics, foreign policy, history and economics. His hobbies include reading, watching movies and indoor gaming.