Professor Hawking finally goes to space – in his new book
Professor Stephen Hawking has created a "fictional alter ego" that fulfils his life long dream of going into space.
The world's most famous physicist and his daughter invented the character named Eric for their latest children's book George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt.
The brilliant, party-loving, scientist helps his son – the George of the title – in a daring mission to Mars to save the Earth from a marauding robot.
Along the way he also espouses various scientific theories of space and time in an easy to digest and entertaining way.
The book, which follows the best seller George's Secret Key to the Universe, was written with his daughter Lucy and is published this month.
"It's dad as he was when he was a young man, before his disability and before his fame," his daughter told the Daily Telegraph.
"He loves the idea of having a fictional alter ego who actually gets to visit outer space, rather than just thinking about it all the time.
"What gives him even more pleasure, though, is the way in which these books have encouraged children to take another look at science.
"There's this idea that scientists are lonely white-coated figures who spend their lives on their own in a tower, with lots of bubbling things in test tubes.
"What the books show is that being a scientist is actually very collaborative process."
During the adventures Eric throws a fancy dress party for his academic colleagues which has a space theme and sees them turning up among other things as moon-rockets and satellites.
The get-together is based on a real life party thrown by her father, said Miss Hawking.
Alongside the book's fictional adventure are factual essays form some of the world's most distinguished scientists with titles such as Is there Anyone Out There? and Getting in Touch with Aliens.
There is also an article by Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal, and by Professor Hawking himself on the importance of space travel.