Stephen Hawking Hospitalized
By ASSOCIATED PRESS - NY TIMES
Added: Sun, 19 Apr 2009 23:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Scott for the link.
LONDON (AP) -- Stephen Hawking, the British mathematician and physicist famed for his work on black holes, was rushed to a hospital Monday and was seriously ill, Cambridge University said.
Hawking has been fighting a chest infection for several weeks and was being treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, the university city northeast of London, the university said.
''Professor Hawking is very ill,'' said Gregory Hayman, the university's head of communications. ''He is undergoing tests. He has been unwell for a couple of weeks.''
Later in the afternoon, Hayman said Hawking was ''now comfortable but will be kept in hospital overnight.''
The illness had caused Hawking to cancel an appearance at Arizona State University on April 6.
Hawking, 67, gained renown for his work on black holes, and has remained active despite being diagnosed at 21 with ALS, (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), an incurable degenerative disorder also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
For some years, Hawking has been almost entirely paralyzed, and he communicates through an electronic voice synthesizer activated by his fingers.
Hawking was involved in the search for the great goal of physics -- a ''unified theory'' -- which would resolve contradictions between Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which describes the laws of gravity that govern the motion of large objects like planets, and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, which deals with the world of subatomic particles.
''A complete, consistent unified theory is only the first step: our goal is a complete understanding of the events around us, and of our own existence,'' he wrote in his best-selling book, ''A Brief History of Time,'' published in 1988.
In a more accessible sequel ''The Universe in a Nutshell,'' published in 2001, Hawking ventured into concepts like supergravity, naked singularities and the possibility of a universe with 11 dimensions.
He announced last year that he would step down from his post as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a title once held by the great 18th-century physicist Isaac Newton. However, the university said Hawking intended to continue working as Emeritus Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.
''Professor Hawking is a remarkable colleague. We all hope he will be amongst us again soon,'' said Peter Haynes, head of the university's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.
Brian Dickie, director of research at the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said only 5 percent of people diagnosed with ALS survive for 10 years or longer.
Update: Also a link from SPS.
'Brief History' scientist Stephen Hawking 'very ill': university
Stephen Hawking, the wheelchair-bound British physcist whose "A Brief History Of Time" became an international best-seller, is "very ill" in hospital, Cambridge University said Monday.
Hawking, 67, achieved worldwide fame for his research, writing and television documentaries despite a form of motor neurone disease that has left him disabled and dependent on a voice synthesiser to communicate.
"Professor Hawking is very ill," said a spokesman for the university, adding that the academic had been taken to a local hospital by ambulance.
Hawking is Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton.
A Cambridge professor since 1979, Hawking became an international celebrity through his best-selling 1988 book on cosmology, "A Brief History Of Time", which examines complex concepts like the Big Bang and black holes.
It was followed in 2001 by another book, "The Universe In A Nutshell", as well as documentaries and even cameo appearances in television shows like "The Simpsons" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation".
He received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a prestigious award from Queen Elizabeth II, as well as a string of honorary degrees.
Hawking suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, leaving him almost completely paralysed. He was diagnosed with the condition aged 22 and was not expected to survive into his 30s.
But he defied expectations to build a hugely successful academic career.
Hawking has always insisted he is determined not to let his physical condition get in the way of his work, in which he specialised in theoretical physics and quantum gravity.
"I try to lead as normal a life as possible and not think about my condition or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many," he once said.
He found himself in the media spotlight for a different reason after leaving his wife and setting up house with one of his nurses, Elaine Mason, who he married in 1995.
In 2000 and 2004, police investigated allegations that Hawking had suffered mysterious assaults, but he denied this and called it a "non story".
Arizona State University in the United States announced earlier this month that Hawking had cancelled a planned appearance on April 5 because he was recovering from a chest infection and doctors advised him not to fly.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the Discovery Channel would screen "Stephen Hawking's Universe", a new three-part special exploring the nature of the cosmos to be screened in 2010.
Hawking was due to retire as Lucasian professor at Cambridge this year, but stay on at the university in a different role.
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