The techno tune, from the recent Orbital album Wonky, samples the voice of Hawking, the theoretical physicist the BBC called “the most famous disabled person in the world.”
“The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is the largest, most complex machine in the world, possibly the universe,” Hawking says, as the British electronica duo’s lush and poignant synthesized sounds soar behind him. “By smashing particles together at enormous energies, it re-creates conditions of the Big Bang. The recent discovery of what looks like the Higgs particle is a triumph of human endeavor and international collaboration. It will change our perception of the world, and has the potential to offer insights into a complete theory of everything.”
The Olympic Stadium stage then transformed into a colorful vision of the Large Hadron Collider, with rows of people dressed as red particles rushing out of the center of the stage. (See the performance in the video above.)
Suddenly, the graceful, expansive “Where Is It Going?” morphed into the aggressive stomper “Spasticus Autisticus” by Ian Dury. The late singer, who became crippled after contracting polio at a young age, wrote the song in the early 1980s to protest what he perceived as patronizing treatment of the disabled; the song was subsequently banned by the BBC.
During the Paralympics opener Wednesday, the song came alive once again onstage. The live broadcast drew 11.2 million viewers, according to the BBC.
If the video of the performance doesn’t make you shed a tear about the wonders of science and the triumphs of humankind, then, well, nothing will.
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