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Life’s biggest mystery still has him stumped

When Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s best-known scientists, was asked what he wonders about most, the Cambridge University professor renowned for unravelling some of the most complex questions in modern physics had his answer ready.

“Women. They are a complete mystery,” quipped the author of A Brief History of Time.

The wheelchair-bound Hawking, who only recently retired from a post once held by Isaac Newton, was too ill to attend his 70th birthday celebrations on Jan. 8, but in a recorded speech urged people to be curious about the universe.

He was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 1963 and told he had barely two years to live. He has since been hailed as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.

He said his excitement and enthusiasm for his subject drove him on, and urged others to seek out the same inspiration.

“Remember to look up at the stars, not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious,” Hawking said.

Hawking, whose health has deteriorated to where he now uses twitches in the muscles in his cheek to choose letters or words on his voice computer to communicate, is still undaunted.

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at,” he said. “It matters that you don’t just give up.”

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