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Professor Stephen Hawking helps launch London's Paralympic Games

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Image: London's Paralympic Games are now underway

World-renowned scientist and physicist Professor Stephen Hawking has made a rare public appearance to help mark the launch of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

The Opening Ceremony - created by artistic directors Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings - focused on the scientific advances across history that have challenged human perceptions.

In a series of statements that formed part of the event, Professor Hawking called for a "new age of enlightenment" as the two-week period of Paralympic competition got underway.

Athletes from 164 Paralympic teams will be participating in the London 2012 Games, which are set to be the largest of their kind ever held during the Games' 52-year official history.

LOCOG chair Sebastian Coe said: "Prepare to be inspired. Prepare to be dazzled. Prepare to be moved by the Paralympic Games of London 2012."

• A "huge transitional operation" has been undertaken by LOCOG following the end of the Olympic Games in order to prepare for the Paralympic Games.

Among work carried out has been the transformation of the Athletes' Village from a complex housing 10,000 Olympians to one catering for 4,280 Paralympians in just five days.

Click here for more information about the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.

Image: DCMS

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World-renowned scientist and physicist Professor Stephen Hawking has made a rare public appearance to help mark the launch of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
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