Stephen Hawking Very Ill in Hospital

World renowned scientist Stephen Hawking who filled Sir Isaac Newton’s shoes at Cambridge University for several years is seriously ill in hospital. He has been fighting a chest infection for several weeks and is now undergoing tests at Addenbrooke’s Hospital on the outskirts of Cambridge.

Twitter is currently abuzz with the news that mathematician/cosmologist/theoretician Stephen Hawking is seriously ill and was rushed to hospital in Cambridge.

I suspect that if he was aware of Twitter before today he’d have probably hoped that it would be his science book for children that would be trending on Twitter and not news of his being ill.

Well wishers are describing at as a sad day, which it is, but put the brakes on for a moment, the guy’s not dead yet. There has been a lot of people with chest infections in and around the Cambridge area these last few weeks. I should know I have been one of them so too various friends and relatives.

Of course, Hawking who is retiring as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge also has a form of motor neurone disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The disease, also known as Maladie de Charcot) is a progressive, and usually, fatal disorder. Hawking having contracted it in his early 20s has outlasted the prognoses of his doctors by four decades, fathered three children and has one grand child.

Thankfully, I’ve only seen one tweep sending “prayers” out to Prof Hawking. He is perhaps not quite as famously atheistic as his often confused non-namesake Richard Dawkins but I’m pretty sure he’s not a theist either.

At least one tweep is now, callously(?), offering a used copy of A Brief History of Time (Hawking’s most famous book) and one tweep is asking whether he’s dying…

Most people, however, are retweeting that it’s a sad day and wishing him well. It’s ironic that he isn’t on twitter really, it would be a perfect communication tool for the dissemination of pithy science soundbites, although it’s not quite up to Tex for all those formulae, so maybe not.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the news as it is rolling out on Twitter is that there is only that one piece of news, that he’s “very ill” and has been rushed to hospital and that was actually broken in the old-media style with a press release from Cambridge University around 11am UK time. So, it’s taken until the East Coast awoke before Twitter got the buzz.

Meanwhile, the cranks are tweeting prayers and reiki “healing” to Hawking. I’m sure he’ll appreciate those, but what if their “effects” interfere with the real medical treatment he is receiving?