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Stephen Hawking made an appearance at The Sydney Opera House via hologram, and had a great Star Trek exit

Photo: Prudence Upton.

World-renowned physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking made a virtual appearance at the Sydney Opera House last night.

With the help of Cisco and the University of New South Wales, DVEtelepresence Holographic Live Stage technology transported Hawking’s image from Cambridge University in the UK to the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall so he could present a lecture at “An Evening with Stephen Hawking” – part of Ideas at the House, a talks and ideas program put on by the Opera House.

This was the first time the physicist had ever participated in such a presentation.

“Although I would love to be there in person,” he said in his opening speech to the audience, “the idea of being the first person to appear as a hologram at the stage at the Opera House was too good an offer to refuse.”

Photo: Prudence Upton.

The high definition video stream projected a three dimensional image of Hawking, to be side by side with his daughter, Lucy Hawking, and physicist Paul Davies live on stage in the Concert Hall.

Hawking discussed his life, his work and how his diagnosis gave him perspective on life. Lucy talked about what it was like to grow up as the daughter of one of the most famous and recognisable men in the world.

“At first I became depressed. I seemed to be getting worst really rapidly. There didn’t seem any point working on my PHD because I didn’t know if I would live long enough to finish it,” Hawking said.

“But then the condition developed more slowly and I began to make progress in my work. After my expectations had been reduced to zero every new day became a bonus and I began to appreciate everything I had. Here there is life there I hope.”

He also touched on the current technological age, where people have “come to expect a steady increase in the standard of living that science and technology have brought”.

“Now with the internet people can answer back and interact,” he says, “In a way the internet connects us all together like neurons in the giant brain. With such an IQ what won’t we be capable of.”

He even answered questions about One Direction, when someone asked why Zayn left the band.

“Finally a question about something important,” he joked.

“My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to play close attention to the study of theoretical physics because one day there may be well be prove of multiple universes… and in that universe Zayn is still in One Direction this girl may even like to know that in another possible universe she and Zayn are happily married.”

At the end his lecture, he finished with a quote from one of his favourite science thinkers, Mr Spock: “live long and prosper”, he says.


Then after a round of applause, he says, “Now, beam me up.” And he’s gone.


Ann Mossop, Head of Talks and Ideas at the Sydney Opera House, said the lecture was “a very special event”.

“Our partnership with UNSW’s Big Questions Institute and Cisco enabled a technological Australian first.

“We have created a unique experience for our audiences, making sure that Ideas at the House continues to be an inspiring and innovative program.”

A second show will take place tonight at 8pm.

See a video of Hawking’s closing remarks, courtesy of The Sydney Opera House here.

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