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mental invalid

A Marvel of Science, Hawking Turns 60

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...for the hardcore hawking heads....from the NYT....happy birthday...may he live another 60 and continue to expand our views and dreams...



A Marvel of Science, Hawking Turns 60




AMBRIDGE, England, Jan. 8 — There is no crying in physics, where even the best of friends can call each other's work rubbish, and the most beloved theories are coolly thrown out when experiments contradict them.


But there was emotion tonight in the high-ceilinged hall of Gonville and Caius College here when a butler opened a door and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator slithered in, wearing a pink dress and singing "I Want to Be Loved by You" in a whispery voice to Dr. Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge University cosmologist and best-selling author. Dr. Hawking was lolling in a wheelchair, his face split by a huge grin, while some 200 hard- core physicists, their families and friends roared and cheered with laughter, and then joined in singing "Happy Birthday."


"Marilyn and I go way back," Dr. Hawking said in the android voice of his computerized voice synthesizer, alluding to a scene on the television show "Star Trek: The Next Generation," in which a space warp causes Monroe to appear on his knee.


In his nearly 40 years as a working physicist, Dr. Hawking has led his colleagues in the exploration of black holes — the gravitational traps that swallow everything, even light — as well as theories about the origin of the universe, but one of his more astonishing achievements may simply be that he has survived.


Today, 39 years after he was given a death sentence, a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, Dr. Hawking turned 60, a landmark age for a scientist, and one that outstrips by decades the life expectancy for most people with the condition. Accordingly, his colleagues and students, an all-star cast of physicists, have gathered here for four days of workshops and parties. The week will be capped by a day of public lectures, including one by Dr. Hawking himself.


The 60th birthday is an event "which most of us would, 35 years ago, have laid astronomical odds against witnessing at all, let alone with sustained achievements to celebrate," said Dr. Martin Rees, a cosmologist at Cambridge University and Britain's Astronomer Royal, who has known Dr. Hawking since the early 1960's.


In a memoir on his Web site, Dr. Hawking recalls dreaming after his diagnosis that he was going to be executed. But after watching a young boy in a nearby hospital bed die of leukemia, he decided that he himself was not so bad off, yet. He went on to marry and have three children while his career took off and black holes became all the rage.


His most important work came in 1974, physicists say, when he discovered that black holes are not really black but could radiate their mass- energy away and explode. That notion is now at the center of efforts to unite Einstein's general theory of relativity, which describes the gravity that shapes the cosmos, with the quantum chaos that lives inside it.


For years, the whir of Dr. Hawking's wheelchair, creeping down an aisle of a darkened auditorium, has invested even the dreariest astrophysical gatherings with a gladiatorial drama. His latest book, "The Universe in a Nutshell," like a predecessor, "A Brief History of Time," has climbed the best-seller lists.


Not everyone has been star struck. In 1999, his former wife, Jane Hawking, published a tell-all memoir, "Music to Move the Stars," which described the disintegration of their relationship under the pressures of fame and disability. Dr. Hawking left her in 1990 and later married his nurse, Elaine Mason.


Dr. Hawking's colleagues explain his ability to frustrate grim predictions by pointing to his iron constitution and iron will.


"He is a person of such will, such intellectual strength," said Dr. Andrei Linde, a Stanford physicist who met Dr. Hawking in Moscow in the late 1970's. "It all meshes together."


That determination transcends science, said Dr. Linde, who recalled Dr. Hawking speeding dangerously down Dr. Linde's steep driveway during a visit to California once.


Dr. Hawking himself almost didn't make his own party. On the Friday after Christmas, according to his friends, he lost control of his new Quantum Jazzy wheelchair and crashed into a wall. The wheelchair toppled and the fragile physicist fell, banging his head and breaking a femur. He was taken to the hospital, where a metal plate was installed, Dr. Rees said.


Apprised of this event, Dr. Linde said: "He's consistent. Exactly what I told you."


Sunday night, at the symposium's opening reception, the guest of honor was there, sporting a bruise. Since a tracheotomy in 1985, Dr. Hawking has spoken only via his computer.


Dr. Hawking turned to the front of the crowd and clicked a control button. "I'm so pleased to see you all," he said. "It is wonderful that nearly everybody who was invited was able to come. It shows there are no boundaries in theoretical physics or in friendship."

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Guest BROWNer

'he lost control of his new "Quantum Jazzy"':) :) :) :)

bump for a cool cat.

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