Stephen Hawking honored at NYC gala

British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is seen during a meeting with Chile's President Michelle Bachelet, not pictured, at La Moneda government palace in Santiago, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008. ((AP Photo/Roberto Candia))

June 2, 2010 7:29:49 PM PDT
British physicist Stephen Hawking has been honored at a celebrity-filled gala mixing science and the arts at New York City's Lincoln Center. Wednesday night's gala is the kickoff event for the World Science Festival, a five-day gathering meant to bring the most complex topics in science to the masses.

Hawking said in remarks delivered from the stage that he was "proud to have played a small role in this great story" of science.

The gala included appearances by actor and science aficionado Alan Alda, Broadway stars and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Hawking is best known for his work explaining the physics of black holes. In the 1960s, Hawking developed a degenerative disease that has impaired his ability to move and speak.

He uses an electronic speech synthesizer to communicate.