Stephen Hawking, the English rock star of astrophysics, is well aware that he’s got lots of admirers worldwide, but for someone trained to always seek proof and validation, he may be pleased to know that there’s a pretty accurate way of finding out how popular he is — in China, at least.
Hawking, 74, created his first account on China’s Twitter-like service Weibo on Tuesday, and in just 12 hours, he amassed nearly two million Chinese followers, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In his first Weibo message, which was posted at 10:12 a.m. in both Chinese and English, Hawking said it has been quite a while since he last visited China in 2006, when he took part in a physics conference in Beijing.
It was an extraordinary experience for him, he said, adding that his first trip to the country was in 1985.
“In my physical travels, I have only been able to touch the surface of your fascinating history and culture. But now I can communicate with you through social media,” he said in his post.
“I hope to tell you more about my life and work through this page and also to learn from you in reply.”
Hawking’s post clearly pleased his many Weibo fans, who forwarded and commented on it more than 300,000 times in 12 hours.
Also during the period, more than 1.85 million rushed to become followers of his Weibo account, meaning the number of his Chinese fans increased at a speed of more than 40 every second, the newspaper said.
One netizen, overwhelmed by the encounter with the distinguished scientist, gushed: “Following your Weibo makes me feel being connected to the universe.”
Other fans said China should now internationalize Weibo rather than bring in Facebook.
The account is jointly managed by Hawking’s team and a social media company called Stradella Road, Ming Pao Daily reports.
– Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org