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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power