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Stephen Hawking says human race must pursue space migration

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Seventy-one -year-old Cosmologist Stephen Hawking says he doesn't think humans would survive another 1,000 years "without escaping beyond our fragile planet." Spending his career decoding the universe and even experiencing weightlessness, Hawking is urging the continuation of space exploration - for humanity's sake.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Addressing an audience of doctors, nurses and employees at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Hawking toured a stem cell laboratory that's focused on trying to slow the progression of Lou Gehrig's disease.

Hawking was diagnosed with the condition 50 years ago while still a student at Cambridge University. He recalled how he grew despondent and saw little point in finishing his doctorate - but he persevered.

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

Mot famous for his work on black holes and the origins of the cosmos, Hawking is famous for bringing esoteric physics concepts to the masses through his best-selling books, including "A Brief History of Time," which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.

Hawking titled his hour-long lecture to Cedars-Sinai employees "A Brief History of Mine." Surviving longer than most people with Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the condition attacks nerve cells 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. Few people with ALS live longer than 10 years following a diagnosis.

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.

Hawking has beaten the odds and has remained active. In 2007, he floated like an astronaut on an aircraft that creates weightlessness by making parabolic dives.

He added some bits of advice to his rapt audience. "Look up at the stars and not down at your feet." "Be curious."

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

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

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

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