Hawking misses birthday event through ill-health

 

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was not well enough to attend a conference in honor of his 70th birthday, a University of Cambridge official said Sunday.

Hawking's remarkable career is being honored as part of a daylong conference on cosmology being hosted at the university. But Vice Chancellor Leszek Borysiewicz said the celebrity scientist was released from hospital on Friday, and that “unfortunately his recovery has not been fast enough for him to be able to be here.”

He didn't say when Hawking was hospitalized or specify the nature of his condition, although he did say that Hawking would be well enough to meet some of the attendees over the next week.

Hawking was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease — an incurable degenerative disorder known as motor neurone disease in the UK — when he was 21.

Most people die within a few years of the diagnosis, but Hawking has defied the odds and gone on to revolutionize the field of theoretical astrophysics and become one of the best-known scientists since Albert Einstein.

The condition has left him almost completely paralyzed and in a wheelchair since 1970. Since catching pneumonia in 1985, he has needed around-the-clock care and relies on a computer and voice synthesizer to speak. His fragile health has forced him to cancel appearances in the past.

Borysiewicz said he hoped that Hawking would follow the proceedings via videolink.

“If you're listening Stephen, happy birthday from all of us here today,” Borysiewicz said to a round of applause.

In a recorded message played to audience after the conference, Hawking told them that understanding the cosmos was of far more than theoretical interest.

“If you understand how the universe operates,” he said, “you control it in a way.”

Hawking's celebrity status was evident at Cambridge's Lady Mitchell Hall, where hundreds crowded into the auditorium to hear prominent researchers outline the latest developments in cosmology.

Outside the venue, three teenagers — self-described “groupies” — waited for a chance to catch a glimpse of the eminent scientist.

Eighteen-year-old engineering student Marianna Sykopetritou said that seeing Hawking would be “a once-in-a-lifetime thing.” She said that the event had a page-and-a-half-long waiting list.

Borysiewicz said that Hawking had “transformed our understanding of space and time, black holes, and the origins of the universe,” adding that his success in the face of adversity was a “beacon of hope and encouragement for those in difficulty everywhere.”

Hawking is also known for his work popularizing the field of theoretical astrophysics in a series of best-selling books such as “A Brief History of Time” and “The Universe in a Nutshell.”

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior IT Support / Projects Engineer

£26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner & Wood Machinist

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This busy local Joinery company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence