I don't know who is smarter, but the greater scientist, by a mile, was Einstein. What Hawking did was merely good: He speculated that black hole could disappear by the "Hawking Radiation." It's just a simple idea, not proven.
Howerver, Einstein proved molecules exist, "discovered" the photon & described its behavior mathematically, and wrote the general and special theories of relativity. These are truly great, stunning achievements.
Hawking is famous partly because of his disease (ALS), but he's not even a greater scientist than Enrico Fermi, Neils Bohr, Schrodinger and so on.
By this measure, Einstein was way smarter
Who is smarter is really an idle question. But clearly Einstein achieved a lot more. Einstein made several discoveries (special relativity, general relativity, explaining photo-electric effect and Brownian motion) that were very, very significant and could have won him a Nobel prize. Hawking not so much. If one of his speculations pans out, he might be in the running for a Nobel, but that's not terribly likely.
Einstein is dead, therefore Hawking has a distinct advantage. On the other hand, Einstein has made many mindboggling contributions to the great advances in theoretical physics in the 20s, which Hawking is not likely to match.
I would vote for Einstein. Hawking was smart but if he didn't come up with his ideas, somebody else would. Einstein's relativity concept was so out there, it would take a much longer time to get somebody else to come up with it.
It's a silly question. They're both visionaries and geniuses, and both have contributed a great deal to the study of physics. Science is not a competition, its a journey that the whole human race is taking together.
My boyfriend is smarter than any of these two. The only person smarter than my boyfriend is me.
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