Stephen Hawking debuts on Weibo with a big bang

Updated: 2016-04-13 11:24

By Niu Yue in New York(China Daily USA)

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Stephen Hawking debuts on Weibo with a big bang

Physicist Stephen Hawking sits on stage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York on Tuesday. Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Stephen Hawking stirred up Weibo's world after he launched his own account and posted his first message at China's version of Twitter.

"Greetings to my friends in China! It has been too long!" said Hawking's post in English and Chinese at 10:12 am on Tuesday.

Excited fans rushed to leave messages mixed with English and Chinese in a sign that it was emotionally overwhelming for Chinese people to have direct communication with the great mind they have long admired.

In less than 24 hours, Hawking's account amassed almost 2 million followers, and his message had been forwarded almost 325,000 times, garnering almost 340,000 comments.

"Oh my gosh! I'm communicating with Hawking, even if it's a one-way conversation! It might be a great milestone," wrote Weibo user "LKaterina" in Chinese.

"Mr Hawking, I admire you so much. Now I feel like I'm getting in touch with the universe," wrote "LUHHUNHun" in Chinese.

In his first message, the English theoretical physicist recalled his last visit to China in 2006, when he took part in a physics conference in Beijing.

"It was an extraordinary experience," he wrote. "My first trip was in 1985 when I traveled across your remarkable country by train. In my physical travels, I have only been able to touch the surface of your fascinating history and culture.

"But now I can communicate with you through social media - and I hope to tell you more about my life and work through this page and also to learn from you in reply," he wrote.

"Welcome to Weibo. I remember your last visit in China, it made me very excited at age of 15. Hope you'll enjoy yourself here and share more with us," commented Weibo user "Gratl" in English.

The revered academician, who has struggled with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), has inspired many Chinese people for several decades.

Hawking also became a household name outside academia in China to a degree rare for scientists as the author of A Brief History of Time, a popular science book introduced to China in the late 1980s.

Celebrities also extended their welcome to the world-renowned cosmologist.

"Great scientist, welcome to Weibo," remarked Kai-Fu Li, Chinese-American venture capitalist and computer scientist.

"Welcome to Weibo Professor Hawking! China welcomes you," said Aarif Lee Chi Ting, the Hong Kong-born Chinese-Canadian actor and singer.

The Weibo account is jointly managed and maintained by Hawking's team and Stradella Road, a marketing and advertising company in Hollywood.

"All content with initial SH signed is from Professor Hawking himself," the introduction said.