LONDON - Wheelchair-bound physicist Stephen Hawking challenged athletes to "look to the stars" on Wednesday as he helped open a record-setting Paralympics Games that will run for 11 days in near sold-out venues.
Close on the heels of the hard-act-to-follow London 2012 Olympics, thousands of dancers and stunning fireworks added to the good cheer on the opening night for an audience of 80,000.
Hawking, diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21 and told in 1963 he had two years to live, began the ceremony by reading from the stage.
"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Be curious," Hawking said from his wheelchair, speaking through his famous computerized voice system for communication.