Professor Stephen Hawking delivered a lecture in Beijing's Great Hall of the People yesterday, drawing an enthusiastic response from 10,000 fortunate school children and university students.
During a 90-minute lecture entitled "The Origins of the Universe," the eminent scientist outlined his radical ideas on black holes, the big bang and other mind-bending theories.
"It was amazing!" exclaimed Jiang Xiaofeng, a first year student of the high school affiliated to Peking University.
"Big bang and black holes I only know a little about these terms through my extracurricular reading, but I'm not unfamiliar with them," Jiang said.
Despite difficulty understanding exactly what the scientist was saying through his famous electronic voice synthesizer, Jiang said he paid complete attention to the whole lecture.
Jiang also said he was particularly inspired to study harder following an earlier lecture by 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate David Gross on "String Theory."
Andrew Strominger, a professor of Physics at Harvard University, also lectured on "String Theory," a controversial model concerned with the building blocks of the universe.
However, Professor Hawking was the main draw.
Chu Jing, a 15-year-old student from the high school affiliated to Renmin University in Beijing, could not suppress her excitement.
"I was so excited to hear Hawking discuss the "escape velocity" feature of the universe."
"We just learned the term last week in our physics class and now I heard it from the mouth of a giant in the field," she said.
She was also impressed by Hawking's vivid description of the origin of the universe as "like boiled water and bubbles."
Other audience members appeared more struck by the scientist's physical condition than his theories. Motor neurone disease means he is wheelchair-bound, and he is unable to speak on account of muscle atrophy.
"I just couldn't help thinking that staying alive and keeping healthy is a great blessing. Each healthy individual should cherish what she or he has," Wang Hongmei, a research fellow in the Physics Study Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily.
Source: China Daily