Stephen Hawking arrives for month-long Canadian visit
Published Saturday, June 5, 2010 2:51PM EDT
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has arrived in Waterloo, Ont. for a month-long visit to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where he accepted a research post two years ago.
In announcing Hawking's visit, the Institute -- an independent, non-profit research centre founded by Research In Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis -- said an official welcoming ceremony will be held June 20.
Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty will attend the ceremony, which is to include a presentation by Hawking himself.
"We are very happy to have Stephen here doing science with other researchers at Perimeter Institute," director Neil Turok said in a statement.
In 2008, Hawking was named a Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute. Last fall, construction began on an expansion of the facility called The Stephen Hawking Centre.
When it was announced that the Institute's expansion would be named for him, Hawking said: "Our field of theoretical physics has been the most successful and cost-effective in all of science. Where would we be today without Newton, Maxwell and Einstein? Many great challenges lie ahead. Where this new understanding will lead, is impossible to say for sure. What we can say with confidence is that expanding the perimeter of our knowledge will be the key to our future."
Hawking's presence in Ontario will no doubt cause a stir among the scientific community, which has long followed his groundbreaking work on black holes and his theories of the origin of the universe. Hawking has written a number of best-selling books, including "A Brief History of Time" in 1988 and "The Universe in a Nutshell" in 2001.
At the age of 21, Hawking was diagnosed with an unspecified motor neurone disease, which was later identified as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. In a lengthy description of his disease on his website, Hawking says he has always tried to "lead as normal a life as possible" despite being wheelchair-bound and needing a speech synthesizer to speak.
"I have had motor neurone disease for practically all my adult life. Yet it has not prevented me from having a very attractive family, and being successful in my work," Hawking writes.
"I have been lucky, that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope.
In 2009, Hawking retired as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton, after 30 years.