January 5, 2012
Stephen Hawking In Danger Of Losing His Iconic Voice
Professor Stephen Hawking's assistant said the famous physicist could be in danger of losing his iconic computerized voice due to gradual loss of muscle control in his cheek.
The physicist has been outliving expectations of doctors who said he could have just a few years to live after diagnosing him with Lou Gehrig's Disease at 21-years-old.
Hawking has used a voice synthesizer to communicate ever since he lost his speech in 1985 due to tracheotomy after suffering a bout of pneumonia.
But his assistant says the professor is now losing the use of the nerves in his cheeks that enable him to speak with the help of a computer and an infrared sensor located in his mouth.
"His speech has got slower and slower and on a bad day he can only manage about one word a minute," Judith Croasdell, his personal assistant, told the Telegraph. "We think it may be because of the deterioration in his check muscle. We are looking to improve the situation and he needs to test out new technology."
Hawking is said to be reluctant to give up his now famous voice. "It is the best I have heard, though it gives me an accent that has been described variously as Scandinavian, American or Scottish," he previously said.
Hawking is expected deliver his 70th birthday speech on Sunday to friends and some of the world's leading academics.
In an interview with New Scientist, Hawking was asked what occupied most of his thoughts, he replied: "Women. They are a complete mystery."
At Hawking's birthday bash on Sunday, some of the world's most prominent physicists will give a series of talks on the state of the universe. Among the speakers will be the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees and Nobel prize in physics winner Saul Perlmutter.
Image Caption: U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Stephen Hawking in the Blue Room of the White House before a ceremony presenting him and fifteen others the Presidential Medal of Freedom on 12 August 2009. The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. Credit: White House
On the Net: