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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect