Press Release

Stephen Hawking Sending DNA into Space to Promote the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics

By SpaceRef Editor
September 23, 2008
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Stephen Hawking Sending DNA into Space to Promote the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics

Renowned Physicist to Participate In NCsoft’s Operation Immortality, Hoping to Raise Awareness of How Disease Can Be Better Managed, Cured and Prevented Through Fully Sequencing the Human Genome

AUSTIN, Texas–Stephen Hawking, best selling author of “A Brief History of Time” and the children’s book “George’s Secret Key to the Universe” written along with his daughter Lucy, will be sending his digitized DNA into space as part of NCsoft’s(R) Operation Immortality(TM). Lucy Hawking is also participating in the project. Together, the father and daughter are hoping the project will raise awareness of the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, a competition that will award $10 million to the first person or team that can sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days or less.

Operation Immortality is a project intended to collect and archive the very best of what humanity has accomplished by sending a digital time capsule of the human race, including messages from people around the world and DNA samples from some of our brightest minds, musicians, athletes and video game players.

Hawking’s DNA will be transported into space by celebrated video game developer and longtime member of the X PRIZE Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Richard Garriott, who is traveling to the International Space Station (ISS) in October. Garriott, whose most recent video game project, Tabula Rasa(R), depicts the destruction of mankind by an alien invasion, will take Hawking’s digitized DNA as well as an electronic copy of “George’s Secret Key to the Universe” on a storage device called the Immortality Drive where it will be placed on the ISS.

This is not the first time Hawking and Garriott have teamed up for high-flying adventures. In 2007, Garriott hosted Hawking aboard a zero gravity flight where Hawking was able to experience a weightless environment.

“Richard and I share the same dream of traveling into space,” said Stephen Hawking. “And we both realize the incredible importance of DNA to life in the universe.”

In actuality, Hawking would like to have sent his completely sequenced genome into space. Current science however, is not yet capable of producing low-cost, fully sequenced genomes. By participating in this project, Hawking hopes to highlight the need for inexpensive, fully sequenced human genomes so that scientists and doctors can begin to better understand ways to identify, treat and prevent disease.

Richard Garriott said, “This is simply one of the most exciting honors of my life. To have Stephen Hawking participate in my space flight project is incredible and it makes this once-in-a-lifetime experience even more meaningful and exciting. If our world did meet an early end, anyone who finds the Immortality Drive will certainly find the best that humanity has to offer.”

The “Immortality Drive,” is currently in the process of being loaded with information from people all over the world at the website. Players in Garriott’s latest game, Tabula Rasa, will also have their character information downloaded onto the drive.

Mankind is encouraged to submit their suggestions for humanity’s greatest achievements, and leave their immortalized message for future generations. A select few may also have their DNA chosen to join Garriott, Hawking and other icons on an out-of-this-world experience, and possibly become the future of mankind.

Hawking’s book, “George’s Secret Key to the Universe” takes young readers on a rollercoaster ride through the vastness of space. In the midst of this exciting adventure, the book shows the mysteries of physics, science and the Universe with George, his friends next door, and a super-intelligent computer called Cosmos, which can take them to the edge of a black hole and back again. For more information on “George’s Secret Key to the Universe” and Stephen Hawking, go to:

About NCsoft Corporation

NCsoft North America is headquartered in Austin, Texas and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Korea-based NCsoft Corporation. NCsoft, with its own development and publishing offices in Texas and California, also works with other NCsoft subsidiaries and third party developers throughout North America to develop and publish innovative online entertainment software products. The company has successfully launched multiple online titles in the last three years and continues to support its franchises, which include Lineage(R)/Lineage II, City of Heroes(R)/City of Villains(R), Guild Wars(R)/Guild Wars Factions(R)/Guild Wars Nightfall(R)/Guild Wars: Eye of the North(TM), Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa, Dungeon Runners(TM) and Exteel(TM). More information about NCsoft can be found at

NCsoft, the interlocking NC logo, PlayNC, Lineage, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Guild Wars, Guild Wars Factions, Guild Wars Nightfall, Guild Wars: Eye of the North, Tabula Rasa, Operation Immortality, Dungeon Runners, Exteel and all associated logos and designs are trademarks or registered trademarks of NCsoft Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


David Swofford, 512 623-8002


Janna Bureson, 512 623-8051

SpaceRef staff editor.