Hawking in hospital with chest infection

2'Very ill' cosmologist undergoes tests at Addenbrooke's

Stephen Hawking is in hospital with a chest infection that has made the wheelchair-bound scientist "very ill", a spokesman for Cambridge University said last night.

Professor Hawking, 67, has motor neurone disease and has been almost completely paralysed for years. An ambulance took him to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge at midday yesterday, where he underwent tests.

Colleagues said he had been ill for a couple of weeks but his condition had worsened since his return on the weekend from a trip to the United States.

A spokesman for the university said that Britain's best-known living scientist was "very ill". The hospital later issued a statement saying that he remained "comfortable" and was being kept in overnight for observation.

Professor Hawking is due to retire from his position as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics – a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton – later this year, although he is due to continue working at the university as an emeritus professor of mathematics.

He was born in Oxford and went to school in St Albans, Hertfordshire before returning to Oxford to study for his first degree. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common form of motor neurone disease, when he was aged 21 and a postgraduate student at Cambridge.

He expected that he would not have long to live and later said that he had been concerned about being able to finish his PhD thesis.

"Then suddenly, towards the end of my second year of research, things picked up. My disease wasn't progressing much and my work fell into place and I began to get somewhere," he said on his 60th birthday.

Professor Hawking's greatest popular success is his 1988 bestseller A Brief History of Time which attempts to explain the intricacies of cosmological theory, from Einstein's theories of relativity to the Big Bang, black holes and the end of time.

The popularity of the book and his paralysed condition, which involved him speaking through a voice synthesiser, has helped to make him a household name. He has appeared in television advertisements for BT and made a guest appearance on The Simpsons.

Much of his work has been focused on understanding the physics of black holes, super-dense structures in the cosmos which have such a strong field of gravity that nothing – not even light – escapes. He discovered that something would emit from the boundary or "event horizon" of a black hole. This became known as Hawking Radiation.

"At first, I thought this must be a mistake in my calculation. But what persuaded me that it was real was that the emission was exactly what was required to identify the area of the horizon, with the entropy of a black hole," he said in 2002. "I would like this simple formula to be on my tomb stone."

He has been treated for pneumonia in the past but there is nothing to indicate the chest infection has developed into the condition this time.

Professor Peter Haynes, the head of the applied mathematics department at Cambridge, said: "Professor Hawking is a remarkable colleague. We all hope he will be amongst us again soon."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific