April 21, 2009

Stephen Hawking Rushed To Hospital, Will Recover

Cambridge University said Tuesday that physicist Stephen Hawking's family expects him to recover fully from a chest infection that has left him hospitalized.

Hawking was taken to a local hospital in Cambridge on Monday.  He is 67 years old and suffers from an illness that has him wheel-chair bound and almost completely paralyzed.  Hawking communicates through an electronic voice synthesizer activated by his fingers.

He is now "being kept in observation" at the hospital after being admitted on Monday.

It was not clear whether his condition has improved or if the family is merely being hopeful for his improvement.  The hospital declined to comment, referring calls to the university.

The university said that Hawking has been fighting a chest infection for several weeks and was being treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, northeast of London.

"Professor Hawking is very ill and has been taken by ambulance to Addenbrooke's Hospital," the statement said on Monday.

Hayman said later in the afternoon that Hawking was "now comfortable but will be kept in hospital overnight."

His current illness has caused Hawking to cancel an appearance at Arizona State University on April 6.

Hawking is known for his work on black holes and quantum gravity.  He is considered one of the world's most achieved scientists with global recognition from the publication of "A Brief History of Time" in 1988.

"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.

He has been 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.

Last year, Hawking announced 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.  But, the university said Hawking intended to continue to work as Emeritus Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

A Cambridge University spokesman was unable to confirm what Hawking was suffering from.

The university's applied mathematics department head says that he hopes that Hawking would recover.

"Professor Hawking is a remarkable colleague," said Peter Haynes. "We all hope he will be amongst us again soon."

Director of research at the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Brian Dickie, said only 5 percent of the people that are diagnosed with ALS survive longer than 10 years.


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