Stephen Hawking meets Mandela in Johannesburg

World famous scientist Stephen Hawking met former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Said Hawking upon meeting Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton: “I am very pleased to meet you.

“I admire how you managed to find a peaceful solution to a situation that seemed doomed to disaster. It was one of the great achievements of the 20th century.

“If only the Israelis and the Palestinians could do the same.”

Hawking is in South Africa to launch the Next Einstein initiative to discover and nurture maths and science talent in Africa.

The initiative builds on the success of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (Aims), a Pan-African centre for postgraduate training and research, based in Muizenberg, Cape Town.

The Next Einstein plan is to create Aims centres throughout Africa.

The second Aims centre will open in Abuja, Nigeria, in July and additional centres are planned in Ghana, Uganda, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Botswana, Rwanda and Sudan.

Mandela responded by welcoming Hawking and other visitors, expressing a great interest in Aims and a desire to visit the centre.

At the end of the meeting, Hawking said, “It was wonderful to meet you”.

Hawking will leave on Thursday for Cape Town to participate in a workshop on cosmology at the new National Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stellenbosch. - Sapa

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