7-year-old space enthusiast wins WIRED’s Hawking competition (Wired UK)


The three winners of WIRED’s Stephen
Hawking
competition have been chosen, and include a 7-year-old
fan from the US and an Astrophysics
Masters student.

Maria Suarez from Houston, Texas, Richard Jarrett and University
of Sussex student Tom Ellis will attend a Q&A evening on 10
December with Professor Hawking and actor Eddie Redmayne, who stars
in the film inspired by Jane Wilde Hawking’s
book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen,
The Theory Of Everything. A special screening of the movie
will also take place, but not before WIRED magazine’s editor David
Rowan puts the winning questions sent in by Suarez, Jarrett and
Ellis to Stephen Hawking.

Ellis, who has an interest in becoming a science journalist, asked: “The discovery of
the Higgs Boson at the LHC has ignited the general publics interest in
particle physics. Do you think there will be
a cosmological discovery in the near future that will illicit the
same sort of response from the public and if so, what area do you
think it will be in?” He tells WIRED.co.uk he’s a longtime fan of
Hawking, whose book “A Brief History of Time” helped put
him on the academic path he’s exploring today.

“While I’ve been studying I’ve come to appreciate him on a new
level… The ability he has to make physics accessible to the general
public combined with actual contributions he’s made to the field is
unparalleled today — probably only Richard Feynman comes
close.”

Jarrett’s question to the professor was: “Have you found that
life in the public spotlight has changed the way you approach
science and discovery? If so, how?”

And lastly, 7-year-old Suarez, who will be accompanied at the
event by her grandmother Charlotte Aguilar, asked: “Professor
Hawking, would you like to see the George books you have written
with your daughter, Lucy, made into movies? And Mr. Redmayne, would
you like to be in them as Eric, the cosmologist dad? They are my
favourite books, and I think the movies could be as big as Harry
Potter with lots of special space effects!” 

Together with his daughter Lucy, Hawking has penned four novels
that introduce children to the secrets of the Universe, via some
lessons in physics. Suarez, who is being raised by her grandparents
and father, is a Montessori student and huge fan of both Hawking
and Redmayne. WIRED.co.uk caught up with the budding space
explorer, with some help from her grandmother, over
email. 

How long have you been a fan of Professor Hawking and
his work? 

This year, when I found out my favourite actor, Eddie
Redmayne, was going to be in a movie about him, I started to learn
everything I could about him. I watched the documentary that is in
his voice and read a children’s book called Stephen Hawking,
Cosmologist Who Gets a Big Bang Out of the Universe
. My
grandma and I go on the computer and read articles and find
pictures of him, too. The most exciting thing was when I found out
he and his daughter wrote children’s books! My grandma and I read
them together (we are on the second one and own all of them), and
they are my favourites! They are about George and Annie and their
families. Later I found out Annie and her genius dad are Lucy and
Stephen! 

What do you like most about the George
books?

They are exciting adventures about cool kids, and they let
you know that it’s all right to be smart and for girls to love math
and science and that they are as good at it as boys. They have so
much information in them about the universe and ideas, and they try
to make science so kids can understand it. They are also very
funny. The best part so far is in the second book, when Annie’s
father, Eric (who is really Stephen) has a party where his
scientist friends come dressed as things in the universe. It is
crazy funny! 

What about his work interests you most?

His children’s books have a lot of information, so I like to find
out more about the universe and multiverses, the Big Bang and
especially about black holes. I like sometimes that he changes his
mind. My favourite thing about Stephen Hawking, besides that he is
the smartest of the intelligent life in the universe, is how funny
he is. 

What would you like to do when you grow
up? 

I love science, but I don’t know yet. I think it would be
exciting to make new discoveries and explore space. I love art and
want to see if I can be an actress maybe, too, and I love writing
stories.  

Are you interested in space travel? 
Yes. My first goal is to do a good enough science experiment
when I am in high school that I can get chosen for the zero-gravity
flight that Stephen took. They take a few students. I am sad that
my country isn’t doing so much exploration, especially because I
live in the space capital of Houston, but maybe that will change
when I’m old enough to fly. 

How do you feel about being the winner of the
competition, and coming to the UK to see Stephen
Hawking?

This is the best thing that could ever happen to me! I
couldn’t believe it! I thought I would never get to see him, so
this is like a dream. I can’t wait to hear his voice in person and
hear his answers to the questions, and I hope maybe I can say hi
and give him a hug. I also drew him and Lucy a special card that I
would like to give him.

Please note WIRED’s event on 10 December is not open to the
public. WIRED’s current issue, January, is on sale now and features
an exclusive interview and feature with Stephen Hawking.

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10 December 2014 | 12:29 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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