The Stephen Hawking 50p is Cool, But Science Isn't Just for Rich People

By Holly Brockwell on at

The Royal Mint has made a gorgeous new 50p piece to commemorate the life and work of Professor Stephen Hawking, but it won't be going into circulation.

The Hawking 50p is only available as a £10 collector's edition, so it's fair to say no one's going to be putting one in your change, and that is a massive shame.

There were also some extra-fancy collectable versions of the coin, including a £795 one in gold, but they've sold out.

This is the first time Hawking has been celebrated on a UK coin, which rather begs the question of why we waited until he'd died.

We're also not convinced Professor Hawking would have been impressed by the coins costing £10 each and not going into circulation. Surely one of the most wonderful things about his work is that it made science accessible to all of us? How is that best celebrated by a trinket for people who can afford to spend ten actual pounds (or indeed nearly eight hundred pounds) on a 50p coin?

Wouldn't it be better to make this beautiful design part of the money changing hands between normal people every day, so that little kids who've never heard the name Stephen Hawking can ask their parents why there's a big hole on their pocket money, and go away and learn about black hole formation? Why is this something we want to limit to children of lords who'll only see it behind glass in Daddy's display case?

If you'd like your own Hawking coin, you can get one here, Moneybags – but your riches would be better spent on one of the Professor's many books, including the legendary A Brief History of Time, most of which can be had for less than this commemorative piece of metal.