Stephen Hawking, the 75-year-old English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, opened his Weibo account in April 2016, and has since received over 1 million likes and hundreds of thousands of comments from thrilled Chinese netizens.
Stephen Hawking’s inaugural Weibo post
Even though he has 4.38 million followers on the Chinese social media platform, apparently the world-renowned scientist doesn’t have time to share his wisdom very often — he’s only made 20 posts so far, though it’s worth noting that this is more than he’s posted on Twitter.
Hawking did, however, post a video to Weibo last Sunday, responding to questions about what humans should do to prepare for moving to another planet, and how to protect traditional culture in the face of technological development. These topics were initially raised 3 hours before Hawking’s post by Wang Junkai, aka Karry Wang, the leader of China’s most popular teenage pop group, TFBoys. Each of the three members of TFBoys has over 30 million Weibo followers.
In Hawking’s video, he explained that he does not suggest the whole population move to another planet, but that the idea of extra-planetary migration should urge people to “behave wisely” and “elevate humanity,” a task that requires an imagination about the future and a determination to alleviate today’s problems. He also encouraged Chinese Millennials in his post:
It has granted me insight into Chinese Millennials on their thoughts and curiosities regarding the future. It is this curiosity and confidence I hope to see grow as you pursue science and other creative ideas, and which will be celebrated in the Tencent Next Idea Innovation Contest.
The videos of Wang’s question and Hawking’s response look very similar — both feature a black background and random montages of Earth and the universe. This was no accident. The sponsor of the videos was the Tencent Next Idea Innovation Contest, an annual campus contest founded in 2012 to inspire and cultivate creativity among young Chinese, with categories covering literature, anime, dance, drama, film, game development, intelligent connection, and more.
The pair of videos served their purpose, and have attracted the attention of many netizens. Here are some comments left on Hawking’s post:
“Thank you for your response, and look forward to the Next Idea. We young Chinese will remain curious about the future and the world with Karry! Thank you again. XXOO”
“He’s awesome. So handsome and so thoughtful.”
Some simply shared their envy of Karry for being “人生赢家,” “a winner of life”:
On Karry’s post, the comments are a lot more direct:
“AHHHHH dear brother”
“AHHHHHHHHHHHH Karry I miss you to death!!”
“WOW Wang Junkai you are brilliant!!”
“Love you AHHHHHHHHHHH”
“AHHHH Wang Junkai”
And some commenters have indeed been inspired to better themselves:
“Junkai I will study English really hard!”
Three cheers for the future!