Hawking in hospital, said to be seriously ill

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
FILE - In this Thursday, April 26, 2007 file photo physicist Stephen Hawking answers questions during an interview in Orlando, Fla. Famed mathematician Stephen Hawking has been rushed to a hospital and is seriously ill, Cambridge University said Monday April 20, 2009 .The university said Hawking has been fighting a chest infection for several weeks, and was being treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, the university city north of London. (AP Photo/John Raoux. File )

LONDON -- Stephen Hawking, the British mathematician and physicist famed for his work on black holes, was rushed to a hospital Monday and was seriously ill, Cambridge University said.

Hawking has been fighting a chest infection for several weeks and was being treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, the university city northeast of London, the university said.

"Professor Hawking is very ill," said Gregory Hayman, the university's head of communications. "He is undergoing tests. He has been unwell for a couple of weeks."

Later in the afternoon, Hayman said Hawking was "now comfortable but will be kept in hospital overnight."

The illness had caused Hawking to cancel an appearance at Arizona State University on April 6.

Hawking, 67, gained renown for his work on black holes, and has remained active despite being diagnosed at 21 with ALS, (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), an incurable degenerative disorder also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

For some years, Hawking has been almost entirely paralyzed, and he communicates through an electronic voice synthesizer activated by his fingers.

He announced last year that he would step down from his post as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a title once held by the great 18th-century physicist Isaac Newton.

However, the university said Hawking intended to continue working as Emeritus Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

"Professor Hawking is a remarkable colleague. We all hope he will be amongst us again soon," said Peter Haynes, head of the university's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.

Brian Dickie, director of research at the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said only 5 percent of people diagnosed with ALS survive for 10 years or longer.


On the Net: http://www.hawking.org.uk

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