Stephen Hawking headlines STARMUS Festival

Acclaimed theoretical physicist to give a keynote presentation at Tenerife Auditorium, host venue for the international event 22-27 September

Tenerife – 26.05.2014. The international Starmus Festival, organized by the Government of the Canary Islands and Tenerife Cabildo and directed by astrophysicist and researcher at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), Garik Israelian, will feature internationally acclaimed British physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking.

The international event will be held from 22-27 September 2014 and is a unique opportunity for promoting the island abroad both from a scientific and tourism standpoint. The Festival also has the support of the Cabildo de La Palma, the International Astronomical Union and the IAC.

The official launch of Starmus 2014 was attended by the President of the Tenerife Island Government, Carlos Alonso; President of the Canary Islands Government, Paulino Rivero; the Tenerife Minister for Foreign Affairs, Delia Herrera, and Garik Israelian, astrophysicist and researcher at the IAC.

Addressing the media today, Carlos Alonso pointed out how Tenerife and the Canary Islands, in general, are attractive to science because of their natural resources, which are of particular importance to the tourism sector with increasingly popular activities like star gazing for example. Meanwhile, Delia Herrera welcomed the presence of a scientist of the likes of Stephen Hawking, “a star among the stars”, while stressing the efforts made by the authorities to get Hawking involved in Starmus as a keynote speaker at the Festival .

The president of the Canary Islands Government, Paulino Rivero, stressed the fact that the Starmus Festival brings together nature, culture, knowledge and science; proof that the Canary Islands use their natural resources for different purposes. In this regard, he stressed the impact of tourism on the regional economy, “a pillar we must diversify.” Underscoring the economic effort made by the institutions involved to be able to stage the festival, he recognized the work of the IAC and Garik Israelian’s role as keynote to the celebration of this scientific event. Garik Israelian then informed the media about the steps taken to arrange Stephen Hawking’s visit and he revealed that the famous cosmologist will speak on the origin of the Universe.

The renowned British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has said he “is looking forward to attending the Starmus Festival” and that he knows about the island of Tenerife and the Canary Islands Observatories. Hawking will deliver his speech at the Auditorio de Tenerife at the opening session of the second edition of Starmus, whose theme is ‘Beginnings: The Making of the Modern Cosmos ‘.

Prof. Hawking will be accompanied by an array of internationally famous speakers including astronauts, cosmonauts, astronomers, cosmologists, chemists, biologists and Nobel Laureates. He will also join in the round table to be held inside the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) at the Observatory Roque de los Muchachos on the island of La Palma.

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Albert Einstein. His work on the origins and structure of the universe, from the Big Bang to black holes, has revolutionized the field, whilst his multimillion best-selling books A Brief History of Time (1988), The Universe in a Nutshell (2001) and The Grand Design (2010), have helped to popularise science and make it accessible to everyone.

A Brief History of Time broke all book sales records in a way that it would have been hard to predict. By May 1995 it had been in The Sunday Times best-sellers list for 237 weeks breaking the previous record of 184 weeks, selling 10 million copies in ten years. This feat is recorded in the 1998 Guinness Book of Records.

Stephen was diagnosed with ALS a form of Motor Neurone Disease, shortly after his 21st Birthday, and was given 2 years to live. In spite of being wheelchair bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication he still manages to combine a family life (he has three children and three grandchildren) and his continued research into theoretical physics, together with an extensive programme of travel and public lectures. He also still hopes to travel into space one day!

Stephen Hawking was born on 8th January 1942 (exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo) in Oxford, England. The son of a research biologist and a medical research secretary, his upbringing gave him a strong curiosity about the university. He was drawn to physics and mathematics as the sciences that offer the most fundamental insights into the world. He studied natural sciences at Oxford University, where he was awarded a first, and then moved to Cambridge to begin a PhD in cosmology.

Professor Hawking has twelve honorary degrees. He was awarded the CBE in 1982, and was made a companion of honour in 1989. The recipient of many awards, medals and prizes including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the National Academy of Science.

In 1979 he accepted the post of Lucasion Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a post once held by Isaac Newton. Tradition required that he step down at the age of 67. At the same time he took up a post as director of research at Cambridge stating emphatically that he was not retiring. The voice of Stephen Hawking was used in Pink Floyd’s last album “Division Bell” in the song “Keep Talking”.

Other speakers at Starmus will be Robert Wilson, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Sir Harold Kroto, Nobel Prize winning chemist, who discovered complex carbon chains in the interstellar medium and determined they were produced by carbon stars. The great ethnologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, legendary guitarist from Queen and astrophysicist Brian May, astrophysicist Jill Tarter, Chair at the SETI Institute, and astrophysicists Bernard Oliver and Robert Williams, former chair of the International Astronomical Union. More names will be announced soon.

Three Apollo moonwalkers will also speak: Apollo 14’s Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 16’s Charlie Duke, and Apollo 17’s Jack Schmitt (the last man to walk on the moon. Cosmonaut Alexi Leonov (the first man to walk in space and commander of Soyuz-Apollo mission) will be joined by four fellow cosmonaut space walkers.

Starmus Activities

The Starmus Festival is open to everyone young and old, beginners, amateurs and professionals. Anyone who holds a passion for astronomy, science, the arts and music, and who has a desire to know more about where we came from and what’s out there.

Activities at Starmus are not just limited to the four days of talks. There will also be a Teide “Star Party”, gala dinner, cocktail reception, space legends tribute, a roundtable discussion in the GTC telescope, Sonic Universe contest and tours to visit the observatories in Tenerife and La Palma. Attendees will have plenty of opportunity to mingle freely with the scientists, artists and rock stars, and casually talk over the Universe and what it all means.

Further information on the Starmus Festival at