"Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking"

The three-part series "Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking" premieres Sunday on Discovery Channel.

Stephen Hawking, the world's most famous mathematician and theoretical physicist (quick -- name two others!), answers the big questions in a three-part Discovery Channel series, "Into the Universe," launching Sunday, April 25.

It opens with the visually striking "Aliens," in which Hawking asks, "Are we alone on our small blue planet? I think not, because of one fact -- our universe is really big."

As lights flicker against space, Hawking says, "Each point of light is an entire galaxy. That makes it difficult to believe we are alone, so to my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational."

In Sunday's second episode, "Time Travel," he ponders warping the time and space continua. In the final two hours on May 2, "The Life and Death of the Universe," he explains how the universe formed and how it's changing.

Paralyzed and unable to speak, Hawking conducted this exclusive interview with Zap2It via e-mail, with an assistant's help. Each question takes him hours to answer, so Hawking is understandably concise.

Q: What great thinkers do you look up to?

A: Galileo and Einstein. Galileo was the first modern scientist who realized the importance of observation, and Einstein was the greatest, but reassuringly, he had a number of blind spots, like quantum mechanics and gravitational collapse.

Q: Who are your heroes?

A: Galileo, Einstein, Darwin and Marilyn Monroe. Q: Who is your favorite character on "The Simpsons" and why?

A: Homer is the ultimate young, middle-aged man, a father who repeatedly fails his kids, messes up at work and is always trying to get something for nothing.

Q: Why is it important to feature science on television?

A: Our lives are increasingly shaped by science.

Q: What are some of the great science questions of our time?

A: How did the universe begin? How did life start? And how will it evolve in the future? What is the grand design? Q: Do you have a motto?

A: To boldly go … .