I called him to offer my services for free.
Couldn't get through, kept getting his answering machine.
Could you repair and tweak superstar physicist Stephen Hawking's robot voice box and gadget-laden wheelchair? If you reckon yes, then the celebrated author and cosmologist wants to hear from you. He has a technical assistant job going, with a modest graduate salary, and it involves maintaining the electronic systems that allow …
Couldn't get through, kept getting his answering machine.
cheap labour here.
A job wherein if you cock it up, the boss can't shout at you eh?
Given unfettered access to said black boxes, you could hook up a remote to switch his voice off as well...
He does have a reputation for running over people's toes with his wheelchair when he's annoyed with them.
Big Bang Tidy!
For what they are expecting, that pay offer is positively derisory!
No wonder he has to rely on an ad-hoc collection of black boxes with no information or backup!
Not all jobs and posts are about the money.
Surely being a mechanic-cum-lackey for an arsehole is worth at least £30k?
Actually, with the very little I know of Dr. Hawking, that sum wouldn't even cover the premium I would charge for working for him. Brilliance does not necessarily make someone pleasant to work under, and there are better ways I can support scientific research anyway.
My guess is that they don't want to attract the kind of people who would apply for the money. The job might be -worth- 200k, but people who -expect to earn- 200k would almost certainly be a terrible fit.
You don't offer a job as an assistant to a 2-month polar expedition team and pay 500k. Sure, it might easily be worth it, but you'd end up with a smooth-talking book-smart ignoramus who'd cry like a girl the whole time. Pay crap money and you get the people who really want to be here. The trick, of course, is to not pay so little that you turn away the motivated and only get the desperate!
> My guess is that they don't want to attract the kind of people who would apply for the money. The job might be -worth- 200k, but people who -expect to earn- 200k would almost certainly be a terrible fit [...] Pay crap money and you get the people who really want to be here
Where does this idea come from, that anyone wanting a salary that matches their contribution to society is being highly unreasonable and the wrong person for the job? I don't blame Stephen Hawking for not paying 200k or 50k if he thinks he can get the job done for 25k, but you do get what you pay for.
Naturally you will get a lot of unsuitable candidates for 200k, but what matter is that you get some suitable candidates. It's not the hardest thing in the world to weed out cry-babies and smooth-talking book-smart ignorami - banks manage it (well actually they don't), and with 200k or even 50k you'll get a whole lot more suitable candidates, many of whom can bring an air of professionalism to the job. For 25k you'll get first-timers who know nothing about maintainability, mission critical software and has to learn all of these things on the job, without the benefit of a mentor.
Plus at 25k the successful candidate is bound to get bitter about it after five years at the latest, only to discover that nobody the combined skills of PA, and wheelchair technician and an obscure speech system. At 50k this is much easier pill to swallow.
But that's the way of the UK, especially UK academia: Pay crap wages, paint a glamorous picture, get bright, but inexperienced people, demotivate them with a crap boss, crap support, crap pay and complete lack of said promised glamour, and then get all surprised when the product doesn't really do its job and the bright but now bitter person moves on, then blame it on a personality failing of the wage-slave you just bled dry.
Upgraded the chair with remote control and text to speech, this allows me to manoeuvre Stephen and even speak for him when he's tired, he's very pleased with this arrangement and also wanted you to know that he's now available for paid promotional events, please contact me directly for pricing.
Assistant to develop pepperpot shaped robots to address selected audiences, when employer is otherwise engaged.
Knowledge of time-travel and energy weapons would be an advantage.
...they're an item, right?
All I got was killed in a cheap negative effect.
The salary seems rather low. Considering they seem to be asking for a PA, academic assistant, support technician (on critical and bespoke electronic, digital and electric systems) and automotive engineer all rolled into one!
I guess they're hoping that someone will want to do it for the chance to work with a brilliant and celebrated physicist.
It's not bad really, considering he will need someone without any commitments anyway. It's a better wage than a typical junior garage mechanic for example, circa £18k and I know more than one of those with more than enough aptitude to keep his electronics going and his website maintained. (To diagnose any car made in the last 10 years - familiarity with an oscilloscope is becoming essential, especially for garages not aligned with one particular manufacturer.)
The public speaking bit - well I guess you'd have one heck of an on-the-job tutor.
As per my above post. Not all jobs are just about the money.
I wouldn't do it for that money! It's a very multi-skilled role which will require a lot of travelling and unsociable hours I would imagine. Unless it also comes with free accommodation (surely he'd need someone pretty local) then it's a piss poor salary and he's using his name as a pass to be tight!
If I were a grad I'd worry about career prospects afterwards too, customised wheel chair support isn't really a growth area, it's not great experience to move you up the ladder - it's interesting work but not relevant to many IT jobs, can't imagine he has a LAMP stack stuffed up his ass.
Anonymous because I have no idea what time-bending ray gun devices he may have invented and attached to his gadget chair!
If I were 21 again, I would definitely be giving it a shot. What an opportunity. It'd be like being a roadie without having to put up with the overinflated egos.
MFW anon believes that academic types don't have overinflated egos.
Just check out some blogs.
>and he's using his name as a pass to be tight!
He is known for it, actually. (Well, he is known both for being tight and for being a self-publicist). I've seen it close up - I was a grad student in the same department at Cambridge. It could be a fun job for a couple of years for someone young and bright with the right sort of aptitude, although it is going to probably involve antisocial hours and travel and the like, and Cambridge is expensive and you are not going to be able to live that well on that salary. You will be no doubt hanging out with lots of grad students on less than that, but they have various perks and subsidies that comes from belonging to a college that you don't. (Unless a college sees fit to extend them, which it might to someone who is already a member of said college - ie has a degree from it. So it's probably a better job from someone with a Cambridge background than someone without that.
My experience with academics is that their ego is at least twice the size of their perceived greatness and expertise in their field - although to be fair the ones I know are in computer science not physics.
But the following all are:
If you want to live like a homeless person so a millionaire with a gigantic ego can treat you like sh*t then crack on.
In fact when the good prof is bollocking you for using the expensive kind of oil on his car instead of the cheap stuff tell him its not about the money and see how long it takes for him to can your ass.
The one I knew was an Animal Scientist.
It would have been interesting to see the results of his DSM-IV.
I wouldn't want to be the one to suggest converting him to Android...
Sounds like something for the 2012 Top Gear Christmas special.
"Eventually, Hammond's paint job was finished and the chair took to the tracks to test May's home made anti-tilt stabilisation system..."
Crunch - Whack - Screech - Thud
"Meanwhile, I'd been busy adding some new phrases to Hawking's voice box thingy..."
If you are a recently graduate in something like electrical engineering this would be a great job. Plenty of variety, world travel, mixing with the upper echelons in the fields of science, media and communications. The experience and connections you'd gain would be invaluable if you have interests in that direction. And you want something to scream "Pick me! Pick me!" on your CV? You'll be getting your foot in the door simply because the potential employers are guaranteed an interesting interview.
They will have no trouble getting enough suitable applicants for this peach of a job.
Wrote : ".... mixing with the upper echelons in the fields of science, media and communications. The experience and connections you'd gain would be invaluable if you have interests in that direction"
You think that? Do you also suppose that David Cameron's chauffeur, Sarkozy's car mechanic, and Obama's plumber, get to mix with the upper echelons of politics and economics?
My father got a job with BBC TV as a technician, because he thought he would be mixing with the celebrities, bright lights and dancing girls; but all he ever saw was the inside of a workshop.
Workshop goggles icon
but the pay does not match whats required.
the only applicants your likely to attract are ones looking for a stepping stone to a better job and wanting to add Cambridge uni /Stephen hawking as a previous employer to the CV...
three years from now the job will be up for grabs again....
I would have thought that as the job involved more or less being a PA as well as tech support, a long term solution would be required. double the pay and you will get someone good that will stick around....
and I k now that not all jobs are about the money, but at some point, no matter what the job is, money has to be a consideration... you have to save for your future you know, pension plans are not worth jack shit any more !!
Sounds to me like they should really be advertising 3 jobs for 2 or 3 people. The Personal Assistant type job would be pretty much full-time I would imagine. And the tech support would be another.
Let's face it, you're hardly going to get someone with that level of technical skill who also has the people skills to be a PA / organiser / speaker. It's not exactly a common mix.
And as for the pay? That's pretty pathetic for what they are expecting the candidate to be able to do.
Davros has offered twice the salary with a few conquered galaxys thrown in!!!
This would be a good job to do straight out of university in lieu of a gap year. Not a bad salary either for new graduate. You would get a great addition for CV, plenty of travel and meet lots of interesting people. Longer than a year and I suspect you would begin to feel like a drudge. You'll discover that no-one is really interested in what you have to say or even in speaking to you personally - and there's absolutely no career progression. The anonymous power behind the throne if you like.
Because all of your predecessors have been the same eventually demotivating situation - there will be next to zero documentation on the hotch-potch of electronics you'll be supporting.
I suspect what will happen is that they'll employ someone massively overqualified who will feel like a drudge much earlier than that.
I reckon I could do that but would want another 200k-250k
Maybe he could get Xzibit to do a one off episode of "pimp my wheelchair".
Me, I'd like to see what Orange County Choppers could do for Mr Hawking, maybe they could give him a wheelie-chair.
> can't imagine he has a LAMP stack stuffed up his ass.
Well that would depend on how well you bolted his on-chair server down.
Imagine approaching or recruiting spies from that position.
But, It's kind of a shame that the IBMs, Apples, Microsofts, and even some Open Source hands aren't in this.
Just hook him up with Griffith/Orbitz/etc, with Celestia, KTTSD... and some of the latest from Japanese robotics, bluetooth, wifi, Android (with decent firewalls, IDS, and such)...
Judging by the comments here, most have already filtered themselves out of applying. I agree with GeorgeTuk that not all jobs are about the money. A lot of people do stuff they enjoy doing and for the challenge, etc. (why climb a mountain...?). Furthermore, there is something called philanthropy and charity.
"Furthermore, there is something called philanthropy and charity."
If that is your motivation, you could spend your time helping LOTS of people in wheelchairs instead of just the one...
But I do...! He'll be just another one I could manage but not full time I'm afraid.
Why be the roadie when you could be the front man? Put down the pentagram. Sign the contract. 21 years young.
Helen of Troy. Paris of Hilton. Armani. Prada. Skinny jeans.
It's easy to sit there, having worked half your life and sneer at how pathetic the salary is considering the job description. I wouldn't do that job because I earn more than that blah blah blah.
This isn't the sort of job you would do forever, it's aimed at someone young and eager. So great, you wouldn't do it because you earn 2/4/8/16 times that salary, but you probably didn't when you were 21.
£25k is a good starting wage for a young graduate, the assumption that people should be able to go straight into earning £40k+ is worryingly prevalent amongst youngsters to the extent many seem to believe it's their right. Berating positions like this based on the money simply engenders this concept further.
If I were fresh out of uni today I would scrub toilets for £25k, so I would sure as hell fix wheelchairs and make some phone calls.
"£25k is a good starting wage for a young graduate"
I agree, it is a fine wage for a young graduate.... but the job description is not just one job as others have pointed out. Its near enough 3 full time jobs rolled into one. Even if you cut it down and looked at it as one full time position and 2 part time positions, they are still underpaying you...
just consider the PA part of the job for a moment. For someone of Mr Hawkins position, he would require a experienced PA, then to take into account his disabilities, a VERY experienced PA.
and, you dont want some young buck coming along and doing all sorts of upgrades to his chair. think about the speech synthesizer. Iam almost cirtain that there are a lot better sounding systems about these days, but the tone and elctronic harmonics of the one Mr Hawkins uses is almost iconic. you hear that voice anywhere and you think about Mr Hawkins. upgrade it to some new system and what will you end up with? someone who sounds like the navigation program on your android phone ! one wrong move and you can easy take away his unique identity....
there is so much more than just a geek with a soldering iron needed for this job, and the pay is not going to attract the right candidate. In fact, I dont believe the person responsible for writing the job description or placing it in the right pay scale has a real sense of what is needed !!
is still more than I get for programming pesky robots.
I wonder is Prof. Hawking would like a robot arm grafted onto his chair that crushes the nuts of anyone asking him stupid questions ....
New Scientist has an interview with Sam Blacburn, the outgoing Chair, so to speak.
If they can't find someone soon, perhaps Hawking could get that iphone that swore at the little boy in UK. When asked a question, the Iphone responded that it didn't understand what you were saying and to shut the f*** up. That ought to do until they get a real tech
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