AFTER opening an account on Weibo on Tuesday, world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking gained over a million followers on the Chinese social networking website in under 24 hours.
According to the South China Morning Post, Hawking’s Weibo account attracted more than 137,000 within four hours of its launch, and gained 140,000 followers in 30 minutes and 1.3 million by 6pm.
Published in both English and Chinese, Hawking’s first post read: “Greetings to my friends in China! It has been too long!”
Hawking’s last visit to mainland China was nearly a decade ago when he participated in a conference in Beijing.
Hawking also noted that his first visit to China was in 1985.
“It was an extraordinary experience,” he wrote in a posting. “In my physical travels, I have only been able to touch the surface of your fascinating history and culture.”
He added that he could not communicate with his followers in China via social media.
The scientist, who is working with Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner on a $100 million initiative for a space exploration project, is bound to a wheelchair due to a rare motor neuron disease, and he communicates with a special device that involves a sensor on his cheek muscle.
With the new account, Hawking said he hoped to share more about his life and his work with Chinese netizens.
“[I] hope to learn from you in reply,” he said.