Feature: "There's life, there's hope": Stephen Hawking

"There's life, there is hope," World-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking said in Hong Kong Tuesday at a press conference at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, the 64-year-old scientist, who has lost the ability to move and speak, answered questions submitted earlier by the press through a computer and voice synthesizer.

Apart from his astonishing achievements in cosmology, how Hawking overcomes physical challenge would also be people's great concern.

When answering a question about how he copes with frustration, which also mentioned a paralyzed accident victim Bun Tsai in Hong Kong who appealed publicly for legalized euthanasia, Hawking said, "The victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants.

"But I think it would be a great mistake. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope." Hawking is in the best position to say so, his action of defeating physical difficulties has proved his word right.

When will human beings be able to reside on other planets? According to Hawking, in 20 years, people could have a permanent base on the moon, and in 40 years, a base on Mars. But both of them are small and either have no or not enough atmosphere. "We won't find anywhere as nice as Earth," he said.

He encouraged Hong Kong students who are interested in science and cosmology to do the same as he did by thinking about big questions like "Where did we come from?"

"There's nothing like the thrill of discovery, when you find something that no one knew before," he said.

Despite his physical limitation, Hawking maintains a close relationship with his three children -- Robert, Lucy and Tim.

The great scientist is writing a book on science for children together with his daughter Lucy, which would be a bit like Harry Potter and the universe, but science, not magic, he said.

Besides questions raised by the press, Hawking also answered the one about the relationship between economic growth and scientific research, asked by Paul Chu, president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

"Research on fundamental science has to be directed by scientific considerations, not economic ones," he said, "But progress in fundamental science often brings great economic benefits."

Hawking arrived in Hong Kong on June 12 to start his first visit in the city. He will give a public lecture titled "The Origin of the Universe" on June 15, and discuss theories on the origin of the universe and explain how time can have a beginning and the progress made by cosmologists.

Hawking is currently Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge.

He was considered to be one of the greatest scientific geniuses alive. Despite being physically challenged by Lou Gehrig's disease, he has continued to intrigue the scientific world by his insightful thinking on time, space, black holes and the origin and future of the universe.

He is the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes, including the Albert Einstein Award, the most prestigious in theoretical physics.

Source: Xinhua

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