Stephen Hawking Celebrates His 70th Birthday
Professor Stephen Hawking will look back on his life today at an event to celebrate his 70th birthday.
All tickets for the free public symposium at the University of Cambridge's Centre for Theoretical Cosmology were snapped up months ago, a testament to Prof Hawking's enduring appeal.
Given only two years to live when he was diagnosed with a form of motor neurone disease in 1963, Prof Hawking has defied medical expectation.
Entitled The State of the Universe, the symposium will celebrate how he went on to become one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.
Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of the university, 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."
Justin Rattner, chief technology officer at Intel, who will introduce Prof Hawking's speech, said: "With more than half a century of remarkable research Professor Hawking has continually pushed the boundaries of humankind's understanding of the cosmos."
Speakers will include the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, Prof Saul Perlmutter, and one of the world's leading theoretical physicists, Prof Kip Thorne.
Prof 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 new-found skill."
Currently director of research at the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge, Prof Hawking previously held the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge, a post once held by Newton.
He is most famous as the author of A Brief History of Time, which was an international best-seller, and his other books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell.