Stephen Hawking can be pretty funny.

Despite the teleconferenced video and the flat tone of Hawking’s synthesized computer voice, his outspokenness and humor shone through as lively as ever. The highlight was a recap of Hawking’s favorite answers to frequently asked questions — some of which drew so much applause from the Seattle crowd that Bristol, the master of ceremonies, occasionally had to repeat the answers. Some examples:

  • What did he think of “The Simpsons” TV show, which has had Hawking as an animated guest star? “It’s the best thing on American TV.”
  • What was his view of the Bush administration’s limits on human embryonic stem-cell research: “America will be left behind if it doesn’t change policy.”
  • What did he think of the program to send American astronauts back to the moon? “Stupid,” he answered. “Sending politicians would be much cheaper, because you don’t have to bring them back.”
  • How high is Hawking’s IQ? The physicist replied that he didn’t know. “People who boast about their IQ are losers,” he said.
  • Which late personage would he rather meet, Isaac Newton or Marilyn Monroe? “Marilyn,” Hawking said. “Newton seems to have been an unpleasant character.”
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