Look up at stars not at your feet, Stephen Hawking says at 75

Iconic scientist Stephen Hawking, whose field-defining work has enhanced knowledge in physics and cosmology, had a special message for academics and students who gathered to celebrate his 75th birthday: “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Be curious.”

He recalled his struggle with  motor neurone disease during the event at the University of Cambridge on Sunday. “Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last 50 years, and I’m happy if I’ve made a small contribution,” he said.

“And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you just don’t give up,” he said.

The event was held at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, where Hawking is based. Some of the biggest names in science were present.

Hawking, born on January 8, 1942, reflected on his life and career in his lecture and discussed his current research. As a PhD student at Cambridge, he was given just two years to live when he was diagnosed with the debilitating disease.

“At first I became depressed. There didn’t seem any point in finishing my PhD, because I didn’t know if I’d be alive long enough to finish it. But after my expectations had been reduced to zero, every new day became a bonus, and I began to appreciate everything I did have,” he said.

“Where there is life, there is hope,” he said at the event themed “Gravity and Black Holes”.

Referring to the writing of his bestseller A Brief History Of Time, Hawking said: “I thought I might make a modest amount, to help support my children at school, and help with the rising costs of my care. But the main reason is I enjoyed it.

“I think it’s important for scientists to explain their work, especially in cosmology. I never expected A Brief History Of Time to do as well as it did. Not everyone may have finished it, or understood everything they read. But at least they would have gotten the idea that we live in a universe governed by rational laws that we can discover and understand.”

The event included public lectures from Brian Cox, Gabriela González and Martin Rees. Many of Hawking’s current and former students and colleagues were in attendance to celebrate his life and career in science.

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