Stephen Hawking: Explore space for humanity's sake

Stephen Hawking: Explore space for humanity's sake
In this photo provided by Cedars-Sinai, British cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who has motor neuron disease, gives a talk titled "A Brief History of Mine," to workers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Cedars-Sinai, Eric Reed)

Stephen Hawking, the British physicist who spent his career decoding the universe and even experienced weightlessness, is urging the continuation of space exploration—for humanity's sake.

The 71-year-old Hawking said he did not think humans would survive another 1,000 years "without escaping beyond our fragile planet."

Hawking made the remarks Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he toured a stem cell laboratory that's focused on trying to slow the progression of Lou Gehrig's disease.

Hawking was diagnosed with the 50 years ago while a student at Cambridge University. He recalled how he became depressed and initially didn't see a point in finishing his doctorate. But he continued his studies.

"If you understand how the universe operates, you control it in a way," he said.

Renowned for his work on and the origins of the cosmos, Hawking is famous for bringing esoteric to the masses through his best-selling books, including "A ," which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.

Hawking has survived longer than most people with Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS attacks in the brain and spinal cord that control the muscles. People gradually have more and more trouble breathing and moving as muscles weaken and waste away. There's no cure and no way to reverse the disease's progression. Few people with ALS live longer than a decade.

Hawking receives around-the-clock care, can only communicate by twitching his cheek, and relies on a computer mounted to his wheelchair to convey his thoughts in a distinctive robotic monotone.

Despite his diagnosis, Hawking has remained active. In 2007, he floated like an astronaut on an aircraft that creates by making parabolic dives.

"However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at," he said Tuesday.

Dr. Robert Baloh, director of Cedars-Sinai's ALS program, said he had no explanation for Hawking's longevity. Baloh said he has treated patients who lived for 10 years or more.

"But 50 years is unusual, to say the least," he said.


Explore further

Physicist Stephen Hawking visits LA stem cell lab

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Citation: Stephen Hawking: Explore space for humanity's sake (2013, April 10) retrieved 6 December 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-04-stephen-hawking-explore-space-humanity.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments