Stephen Hawking was one of the greatest minds in science. Over his impressive life, he made huge contributions to the planet’s understanding of everything from our tiny spot in the universe to the inner workings of reality’s most awe-inspiring phenomena. But his legacy doesn’t only lie in his breakthrough discoveries; it also lies in the engaging, approachable way he shared those discoveries with the public. When he passed away in March of 2018, the world lost a great thinker and storyteller — but that doesn’t mean we can’t revel in his genius today. There’s an award-winning documentary series he produced for CuriosityStream — the last complete series he ever appeared in — that you can watch right now.
Tour the Universe
In 2016, Hawking partnered with production company Bigger Bang to produce an original series for CuriosityStream entitled “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places.” It’s as close to getting a personal tour of the cosmos from the man himself as anyone can get; amid vivid CGI and dramatic music, the physicist flies around the universe aboard a spaceship called the “S.S. Hawking” to explore deep scientific mysteries and share personal details about his past.
“I’ve been lucky,” he begins, introducing the first episode while bathed in the green glow of his craft’s control board. “I have lived an extraordinary life, exploring the universe and attending the odd party or two. But imagine if I could go anywhere and see anything? That would be the most amazing opportunity of all.”
He goes on to tell the story of his diagnosis with ALS at the young age of 21 and how that spurred him to study something “truly worthwhile.” And then we’re off, making a beeline directly for the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. We make a close call with the event horizon as he explains the concept of Hawking radiation, then travel back to watch the Big Bang happen while he debunks a common misconception about our universe’s birth. We travel to our closest exoplanet neighbor and learn what scientists believe might be on its surface, then make a return trip to duck and weave between the dust and boulders that make up Saturn’s rings.
Throughout the series, you come to gain a deeper understanding of Hawking’s greatest discoveries amid breathtaking scenery and hair-raising adventure. He explains why he backed projects to listen for extraterrestrial signals and send a craft to another star system, and even touches on his religious beliefs while we tour the nebula known as the “Pillars of Creation.”
“It’s easy to believe there might be a grand design, built to allow us to exist,” he says. “But to me, such a god is unknowable. And I need to know.”
To call the scenery breathtaking is no overstatement. In 2017, the first installment of “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places” was honored with an Emmy for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction, CuriosityStream’s first (but not last) Emmy. The next two episodes only built upon the vivid special effects and engaging storytelling that the first established.