Stephen Hawking delivers final message on challenges of future - from beyond grave

Stephen Hawking warned that education and science were ‘in danger now more than ever before’ (Joe Giddens/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Stephen Hawking has delivered one of his final messages on the challenges of the future - from beyond the grave.

The eminent cosmologist, who had motor neurone disease and died in March, had his final public thoughts broadcast at a special event to launch his last book, Brief Answers To The Big Questions.

Professor Hawking told listeners growing up in an increasingly insular world: "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet."

His words of advice and defiance, echoing from an Imax screen at London's Science Museum, brought tears to the eyes of his daughter Lucy.

Professor Hawking warned that education and science were "in danger now more than ever before".

He added: "We are … in danger of becoming culturally isolated and insular and increasingly remote from where progress is being made.

"With Brexit and Trump now exerting new forces in relation to immigration and the development of education, we are witnessing a global revolt against experts, and that includes scientists.

"What lies ahead for those who are young now? I can say with confidence that their future will depend more on science and technology than any previous generation's has done."

Global warming, overpopulation, species extinction, deforestation and the degradation of the oceans were just some of the challenges science had to meet, he said.

Prof Hawking ended his emotional address to younger generations with these stirring words: "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist.

"Be curious, and however difficult life may seem there is always something you can do and succeed at.

"It matters that you don’t give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future."

Lucy Hawking, who attended the book launch, was asked how it felt to hear her father once again speaking through his famous voice generation computer.

She said: "It was very emotional. I turned away because I had tears forming in my eyes."

Prof Hawking's ashes have been interred at Westminster Abbey between the remains of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

Lucy Hawking said: "We think he would have been very honoured to take his place in history.

"He never liked to be alone; he always wanted to be in the centre of everything."