LONDON — Famed British scientist Stephen Hawking would like to visit the United States again, but fears that he “may not be welcome” since the election of President Donald Trump.
During the White House campaign, the theoretical physicist and University of Cambridge professor called Trump a demagogue and said the real estate mogul’s popularity was beyond his understanding.
Asked what he thinks of him now during a wide-ranging interview with Piers Morgan on “Good Morning Britain,” Hawking said Trump’s election “represents a definite swing to a right-wing more authoritarian approach.”
Hawking added that even though everyday life in the U.S. seems to be continuing much the same as it always has, he fears that the new administration will have a chilling effect on the scientific community.
“I would like to visit again and talk to other scientists. But I fear that I may not be welcome,” he said.
Morgan asked the man who is best known for his discovery that black holes emit radiation, if had a message for the new U.S. president.
“He should replace Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency. Climate change is one of the great dangers we face. And it’s one we can prevent. It effects America badly, so tackling it should win votes for his second term. God forbid,” Hawking added with a wry smile.
The 75-year-old British scientist was diagnosed with a slow-progressing motor neurone disease in 1963 that has left him paralyzed over the decades. He communicates using a cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Morgan asked Hawking if he agreed with the assessment of many that he is the “most intelligent human being in the world.”
“I would never claim this. People who boast about their IQs are losers,” Hawking replied — getting a laugh out of Morgan.
The two discussed a variety of issues, from Brexit to feminism. But, Morgan couldn’t resist asking the genius the ultimate question: What is the meaning of life?
“The Dali Lama, when I interviewed him recently, told me the meaning of life is happiness. What do you think?” Morgan asked.
Hawking replied, “I have no idea. But I do remember when I was happiest. It was 1967 and the birth of my first child, Robert. My three children have brought me great joy.”
The professor said that his ultimate ambition now is to “float into space” and that Sir Richard Branson has offered him a seat on Virgin Galactic.