They have opened our eyes to discoveries on Earth and beyond.
So it was perfectly fitting that Sir David Attenborough and Professor Stephen Hawking were guests of honour at the opening of Oxford University library’s £80million revamp and new ‘Marks of Genius’ exhibition.
The pair were in Oxford for the launch of the newly renovated Weston Library in Broad Street on Friday.
It reopened with a ‘Marks of Genius’ exhibition of books, manuscripts and artefacts – such as the Magna Carta and writings by Issac Newton – which can be called works of genius.
Professor Hawking said: “I hope that thousands of people, young and old, will visit the exhibition and be inspired to develop ideas of their own, to experiment, try out new ways of thinking, and share their ideas with others.
“Who knows, perhaps the exhibition will stimulate the next Euclid, Newton or Dorothy Hodgkin to put down their ideas on paper or pixels and make new ‘Marks of Genius’.”
During their visit Sir David and Professor Hawking were given the university’s Bodley Medal in recognition of their contributions to culture, learning, science and communication.
Sir David added: “I am deeply honoured to receive the Bodley Medal and to be opening the exhibition.
“It shows the importance of libraries as places where knowledge is preserved and shared from one generation to the next.”
The exhibition launched to the public on Saturday.
The library, formerly known as the New Bodleian, now has a revamped entrance hall from Broad Street, exhibition space, a lecture theatre and café.
It lies across the road from Oxford University’s historic Bodleian Library – one of the oldest in Europe.
Richard Ovenden, the Bodleian’s librarian, said: “This project has been an amazing opportunity to transform an unloved library building at the heart of Oxford, and to support the needs of Oxford University long into the future.
“In a city full of libraries, it is one of the most significant and exciting library transformations for many years.”
The ‘Marks of Genius’ exhibition runs until September 20.