One last mystery for Stephen Hawking: women

 

He may be one of the world's most eminent scientists but one thing remains a mystery to Professor Stephen Hawking - women.

When asked what he thinks most about during the day the physicist, who turns 70 on Sunday, said: "Women. They are a complete mystery."

Prof Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease, when he was 22 and was not expected to live for more than a few years.

But he went on to become one of the world's most renowned physicists, publishing three best-selling books, including the well-known A Brief History Of Time, and has been awarded with a number of honorary degrees, medals, and a CBE in 1982. He has also been married twice and has three children.

Prof Hawking made his comment about women in an interview with New Scientist ahead of his birthday on Sunday.

He also told the magazine his "biggest blunder" was thinking that information was destroyed in black holes.

"This was my biggest blunder, or at least my biggest blunder in science," he said.

He was also asked what he would study if he were a young physicist starting out today, to which he replied: "I would have a new idea that would open up a new field."

The interview comes a week after Prof Hawking's technician Sam Blackburn, responsible for the past five years for the technology that allows him to communicate, told New Scientist the physicist's facial muscles that control his voice synthesiser are fading and new technology will be needed.

"Stephen's rate of speech is down to about one word per minute, and while I am making slight advances in the technology he is using, the nerve decay has now reached the point where we need to move to some new technology."

Prof Hawking will mark his 70th birthday with a speech at a public symposium at the University of Cambridge on Sunday.

Currently director of research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the university, where he also founded the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (CTC), he previously held the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge, a post once held by Isaac Newton.

The symposium, organised by the CTC in conjunction with technology company Intel, is called The State of the Universe.

Speakers will include the Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees; Professor Saul Perlmutter, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics; and theoretical physicist Professor Kip Thorne, from the California Institute of Technology - a long-term collaborator with Prof Hawking.

Justin Rattner, chief technology officer at Intel, who will introduce Prof Hawking's speech on Sunday, said: "With more than half a century of remarkable research Professor Hawking has continually pushed the boundaries of humankind's understanding of the cosmos.

"More than any other scientist in recent history, his ability to engage people in the process of scientific discovery through his books, lectures and television programmes has opened countless inquisitive minds to a universe full of possibilities. Thank you, Stephen, and the best of wishes on your 70th birthday."

Prof Thorne said: "When Stephen lost the use of his hands and could no longer manipulate equations on paper, he compensated by training himself to manipulate complex shapes and topologies in his mind at great speed.

"That ability has enabled him to see the solutions to deep physics problems that nobody else could solve, and that he probably would not have been able to solve himself without his new-found skill."

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, added: "I am proud that the world's best-known scientist is a Cambridge colleague.

"It would always be appropriate for Cambridge to celebrate such a person, and in Stephen's case there is even more reason to mark a long life that has transformed our perception of the universe."

PA

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week