Apparently last night (as of this writing), Stephen Hawking was rushed to the hospital from Cambridge University after not being well for several weeks. He is said to be in a comfortable position.
Of course, many of you will recognize that he is the author of the 1988 best seller A Brief History of Time and the somewhat more layperson accessible The Universe in a Nutshell and A Briefer History of Time. All for which, if you haven’t read, I highly recommend you do so. I might pose some related quiz questions here later.
Along with having brilliant insight as to how the universe works, he is a great populizer of science. It is also well known that he is a long time sufferer of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gherig’s disease. This is a neurodegenerative disease that causes neural signals to weaken and/or no longer be sent to the muscles which gradually atrophy resulting in the patient no longer being able to initiate or control muscle movement. Stephen Hawking continues to beat the odds at surviving this. Doctors expect patients to live about 3 years after being diagnosed and Hawking has lived with after over 30 years.
Although there are some clues, it is not known for sure what causes ALS and there is no cure yet (read the afore referenced link). The ALS Association is fighting to raise awareness, to fund research, and to help families that are going through this. I would urge everyone to give. Every bit helps.
In the meantime, I’ll take this opportunity to wish Stephen Hawking a speedy recovery and a long stint as Professor Emeritus at Cambridge whenever he decides to retire as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics (the traditional retirement age being his age of 67).