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Lucy Hawking to lead science buffs on 'Cosmic Treasure Hunt'

December 01, 2010

2 p.m., Dec. 5, Arizona Science Center 

Arizona Science Center hosts annual ASU sci-fact meets sci-fi lecture

Lucy Hawking, co-author of “George’s Secret Key to the Universe” and “George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt,” will bring her science-based, out-of-this-world children’s adventure stories to life at the Arizona Science Center Sunday, Dec. 5. The best-selling author and former journalist will deliver this year’s “Science Fact Meets Science Fiction” lecture presented by Arizona State University’s BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. 

“Time travel, antigravity, teleportation, contact with aliens – they make great science fiction, but can they really be done?” asks Paul Davies, an ASU cosmologist, astrobiologist and theoretical physicist who directs the BEYOND Center, a cosmic “think tank.” 

"Every year, the BEYOND Center explores the borderline between science fact and science fiction in a special public lecture directed at the young, and the young at heart,” Davies says. 

This year’s lecture – “The Cosmic Treasure Hunt” – will be delivered by Hawking, who says audience members will leave planet Earth behind and journey far across the cosmic environment. “We will look at the ways human beings have used to explore the universe around us. Together, we will embark on a great adventure through which we will learn many exotic and strange facts about the amazing universe of which we are a part,” she says. 

The lecture, suitable for children ages 8 and older, is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m., Dec. 5, in the Dorrance Planetarium at the Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix. Entry to the lecture is free with paid general admission to the Science Center. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. General admission is $12 for adults and $10 for children. Ticket and parking information is available at or 602-716-2000. 

“Lucy Hawking is one of very few writers who can captivate young people and transport them to the edges of the scientific universe. By conveying the sheer fun and excitement of science, Lucy is helping to lay the foundations for the next scientific generation,” Davies says. 

In 2008, Hawking received the Sapio Prize for Popularizing Science. She will use the storyline of “George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt” as the basis for exploring what she calls “some really big questions” that include: Is there anyone out there? Do we need to find a new planet for humanity to move to? And what would aliens look like, if we met one? 

Following a young boy’s journey back to the origins of the universe itself, “George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt” explains to its young readers humankind’s part in exploring Earth’s cosmic neighborhood. The book is published in 39 different languages and won the 2009 Border’s Book of the Year for Independent Readers. 

The children’s novel is the second in a trilogy co-written by Hawking and her father, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. Their first book, “George’s Secret Key to the Universe,” is a New York Times bestseller and an NBC Christmas book club award winner. Their third book, “George and the Big Bang,” is scheduled for publication next summer. 

Recalling her own experience reading children’s literature, Hawking says: “I learnt to read very young and was a bookworm from an early age. My mother used to buy me books to take on vacation and then despair as I would have read them all before we even set off. 

“I read all the children’s classics, the Narnia series, ‘Lord of the Rings,’ the Enid Blyton adventure series, the ‘Rose and the Ring’ by Thackeray, old-fashioned books of fairy tales that my grandparents had saved for me from their own childhoods, all my brother’s Willard Price books – anything I could get my hands on,” she says. “When I’d worked through all the children’s fiction, I started on my parents bookcases and read left to right along the shelves.” 

Hawking received a master’s degree in Russian and French from Oxford University. She also completed post-graduate work in international journalism from City University in London. She has written for many newspapers and magazines, including the Times of London, New York magazine and the Daily Mail, London. In addition to her co-authored children’s trilogy, Hawking wrote two other books: “Run for Your Life” and “Jaded.” 

Hawking is the Origins Writer in Residence at ASU for the 2010-2011 academic year, giving workshops and teaching classes. 

The BEYOND Center, a pioneering research hub in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is at the forefront of research in astrobiology. For more information about the center visit or phone 480-965-3240. 

Written by Jessica Stone,

Carol Hughes,
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences