Professor Stephen Hawking led a cast of stars who spoke of their pride at being part of the London 2012 Paralympics opening ceremony.
The Big Bang Theory scientist appeared live at the event at the Olympic Stadium to act as a guide for the story based on a journey of scientific discovery.
Professor Hawking, one of the world's most brilliant physicists despite having motor neurone disease, said: "The Paralympic Games is about transforming our perception of the world.
"We are all different. There is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being but we share the same human spirit.
"What is important is that we have the ability to create.
"This creativity can take many forms, from physical achievement to theoretical physics.
"However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
"The Games provide an opportunity for athletes to excel, to stretch themselves and become outstanding in their field. So let us together celebrate excellence, friendship and respect. Good luck to you all."
Sir Ian McKellen helped to bring the show to the 21st century and the world of modern-day science.
He said: "I'm the least sporty person I know but thrilled to have a small part to play in the Paralympic opening ceremony in praise of endeavour and enlightenment. British athletes shone at the Olympics. I am hoping the same is true of the Paralympics."