Stephen Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking will look back on his life at an event to celebrate his 70th birthday this weekend in Cambridge.

Given only two years to live when he was diagnosed with a form of Motor Neurone Disease in 1963, he has defied medical expectations to become one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.

The public symposium this Sunday is organised by the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, in conjunction with Intel, and is entitled ‘The State of the Universe’. It will be streamed live on the web.

Speakers will include the Astronomer Royal Lord (Martin) Rees, Professor Saul Perlmutter (University of California, Berkeley, 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics), and one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists, Professor Kip Thorne (California Institute of Technology).

Currently Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, where he also founded the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, he previously (1979 – 2009) held the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge, a post once held by Newton.

The author of A Brief History of Time, which was an international bestseller, his other books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universes, and The Universe in a Nutshell.

Professor Hawking has more than a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science.

Justin Rattner, Chief Technology Officer, Intel Corporation, who will introduce Stephen 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 programs has opened countless inquisitive minds to a Universe full of possibilities. Thank you, Stephen, and the best of wishes on your 70th Birthday!”

Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal, said: "It is wonderful that we are celebrating Stephen's 70th birthday. It's a chance to thank him for the many  insights he's given us about the universe, and  for all he's done to present scientific ideas to a wide public  - and above all for the inspiration he's offered to millions by achieving so much, against all the odds."

Professor Kip Thorne, the acclaimed American theoretical physicist and long-standing collaborator with Stephen Hawking, 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 newfound skill.”

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “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.”

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