Stephen Hawking in Timbers scarf - 11/2/2016
USA Today Sports Images

The story behind Stephen Hawking's Timbers scarfing

In August, the photo began making the rounds on social media: Dr. Stephen Hawking, the famed theoretical physicist, with a Portland Timbers scarf around his neck.

Just how did one of the most famous scientists in the world end up rocking a scarf from the Rose City?

According to Tim Froh, who has the story over at, the answer is a little more involved than you might expect.

Hawking was given the scarf by Brett Bigham, a Portland special education teacher who won the 2014 Oregon Teacher of the Year award before receiving an NEA National Award for Excellence in Education the next year.

Last school year, Bigham taught nine students who used voice output machines like the one Dr. Hawking famously employs. Bigham threw himself into learning all he could about the machines, eventually corresponding with Hawking that led to an invitation to the physicist’s office at Cambridge University in England this summer.

Bigham promised Hawking that he’d bring along a gift from Oregon during his visit, but only brought along a Timbers scarf thanks to his physical therapist, who gave him a club scarf that had been hanging on the wall of his office the day before Bigham departed to Europe.

Hawking ended up loving the scarf, and the Portland media ended up loving the photo. The Oregonian and several local TV stations ran stories on the picture, which was initially posted to Twitter by Bigham’s friend and diehard Timbers fan Alan Moore.

For more info on how Bigham settled on a Timbers scarf – and for Hawking’s reaction to the gift – check out Froh’s piece on