New Stephen Hawking book 'You and the universe' asks kids to save the Earth (exclusive)

Cover of "You and the universe" by Stephen Hawking with Lucy Hawking and illustrated by Xin Li. (Image credit: Random House Children's Books)

Stephen Hawking's interstellar call to save Earth is coming soon to children's bookshelves.

Stephen Hawking (1942-2018), the famed physicist best known for his studies of the universe's past and future, was also concerned about the future of planet Earth. Daughter Lucy Hawking adapted his 2018 message about our planet into the new children's book "You and the Universe" (Random House, 2024) releasing March 26, 2024. You can preorder it now.

"'You and the Universe' is an imaginative and inclusive book which brings my father's extraordinary work in science to life for readers of all ages, beautifully illustrated by artist Xin Li," Lucy Hawking said in a statement.

"The combination of my father's words with Xin's stunning visuals will captivate the very youngest scientists, and spark their curiosity about the universe we inhabit by sharing the wonder and delight of the cosmos — and remind us all why life on Earth is so unique and precious."

Related: Stephen Hawking's children and colleagues discuss physicist's final book, legacy 

You and the Universe | $19.99 on Amazon

You and the Universe | $19.99 on Amazon

Stephen Hawking's message for Earthlings is rendered into a new children's book, with the help of his daughter, Lucy, and illustrator Xin Li. Children will learn how to protect Earth while being there for one another.

Hawking spent his career studying cosmology, or the universe as a whole, with most of his work performed at the University of Cambridge. In 1963, he was given two years to live after being diagnosed with a motor neuron disease (known popularly as Lou Gehrig's disease after the New York Yankees baseball player who also had it, or more properly as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.)

Hawking outlived this dire diagnosis by decades, continuing to perform research using a wheelchair and a specially adapted computer that transmitted his words by voice. He also advocated for disability inclusion, and for protecting Earth from humanity. In 2017, for example, he warned that the damage to our planet induced by human-made "climate change" was reaching a tipping point that could see our planet turn into a hothouse world such as Venus.

Stephen and Lucy Hawking. (Image credit: Random House Children's Books/Lucy Hawking)

The new book is based upon a 2018 partnership Hawking's family had with the European Space Agency, along with the Greek composer Vangelis ("Blade Runner", "Chariots of Fire", "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage".) The message used words adapted from Hawking's book for adults, "Brief Answers to the Big Questions" (Bantam, 2018), set to music by Vangelis.

Around the time that Hawking was being laid to rest in Westminster Abbey, ESA transmitted a message Hawking had for Earth to our nearest black hole, 1A 0620-00, using the Cebreros station in Madrid that usually communicates with deep-space European missions.

With permission, ESA then re-adapted the message for public release for Earth Day (April 22) in 2020 via YouTube, using images from satellites and space launches to illustrate the physicist's words.

"I have spent my life travelling across the universe inside my mind. Through theoretical physics, I have sought to answer some of the great questions. But there are other challenges, other big questions which must be answered," part of Hawking's message states.

Hawking said that finding solutions for renewable energy and slowing down climate change will require a "new generation who are interested, engaged and with an understanding of science."

"We are all time travellers journeying together into the future," he added. "But let us work together to make that future a place we want to visit. Be brave, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: