It feels like yesterday that I met Professor Stephen Hawking in Cape Town at the AIMS 2008 graduation and the launch of the Next Einstein project. While at this event I spoke at length with Pik Both, former minister of Foreign Affairs and he related how he had met Stephen Hawking in the 1990s. And they struck up a friendship around science and exploration. Pik told me that when Hawking was in his 20s he was lying in a hospital bed and another person opposite him died. And at that moment I realised how precious life was and dedicated himself to exploring the most complex problems facing humanity. And as is the nature of all true scientists he has never stopped working on these challenge of understanding the universe. And what really inspires me, having read his book 10 years ago without understanding what I read, is to re-read a Brief History of Time and his follow-up The Universe in a Nutshell.
Anyway here’s a video from TED 2008 where X Prize founder Peter Diamandis talks about how he helped Stephen Hawking fulfill his dream of going to space — by flying together into the upper atmosphere and experiencing weightlessness at zero g. It is no coincidence Stephen Hawking played himself in a Star Trek TNG episode.