25/02/2012 13:24 GMT | Updated 26/04/2012 06:12 BST

Stephen Hawking Visits Science Museum, Signalling Return To Health

Professor Stephen Hawking signalled his return to health today by visiting a museum to see an exhibit celebrating his birthday.

Last month illness forced the Cambridge University cosmologist to miss a VIP reception at the Science Museum in London in honour of his birthday and the opening of the new exhibit, Stephen Hawking: A 70th Birthday Celebration.

That was the second major birthday party he had missed due to ill health. Prof Hawking, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, turned 70 on January 8 but was unable to attend a birthday symposium and celebration in Cambridge on that day.

Roger Highfield, the museum's director of external affairs, said: "It was wonderful that Stephen Hawking was well enough to visit the museum today so that he could at last see the exhibit we put on to celebrate his 70th.

"When our visitors saw him come into the museum there was a fantastic buzz of excitement and a big crowd gathered."

Highfield led the visitors who were present in giving a late but heartfelt chorus of Happy Birthday. Prof Hawking typed "thanks" on his computer.

Prof Hawking was taken on a tour of the museum, which he describes as "one of my favourite places".