President Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to Hawking during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Aug. 12, 2009 in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON – AUGUST 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the Medal of Freedom to physicist Stephen Hawking during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House August 12, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States, to 16 recipients during the ceremony. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Stephen Hawking;Barack Obama