Stephen Hawking: Thousands apply for Westminster Abbey service

Professor Stephen Hawking Image copyright André Pattenden
Image caption Professor Stephen Hawking's life will be celebrated at a service in June

About 12,000 people from more than 50 countries have applied for tickets to a thanksgiving service for Prof Stephen Hawking within 24 hours of a public ballot being launched.

The service for the theoretical physicist, who died in March aged 76, will be held at Westminster Abbey in London on 15 June.

His ashes will be interred between Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

The ballot for up to 1,000 places opened on Wednesday.

People from as far away as Canada and the US, India, China, Bolivia, and the tiny islands of Tuvalu in the South Pacific have asked to attend.

Image caption The professor was a fellow at Gonville & Caius College at Cambridge University for more than 50 years

The ballot was launched by The Stephen Hawking Foundation at 00:01 BST on Wednesday.

Hawking's ashes to be interred at abbey

Stephen Hawking service ballot opens

Within four hours more than 1,000 applications had been lodged and the numbers have been rising steadily, including from 227 UK schools, which are allowed to bring up to four pupils plus a teacher on one application.

Image copyright Stephen Hawking Foundation/Glazier Design
Image caption A new graphic depicting Hawking-Bekenstein radiation has been created and will feature on invitations

The foundation said it set up a dedicated server to cope with the expected high online demand for places at the service next month.

Professor Hawking died after a long battle with motor neurone disease.

Thousands lined the streets of his home city for his funeral on 31 March.

The popularity of Prof Hawking's life and work has caused problems before when demand for his PhD thesis intermittently crashed part of Cambridge University's website as physics fans flocked to read his work when it was published online in October.

Successful applicants for places at the service will be chosen randomly after the ballot closes on Tuesday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Professor Hawking's life story was made into a film starring Eddie Redmayne

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