Despite Breathing Scare, Professor Hawking Put On Show As
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 28, 2005
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON--Cambridge University Professor Stephen Hawking could not appear in person at Seattle's Paramount Theatre as scheduled, so the famous physicist sort of "phoned it in".
The professor of mathematics is the author of the best-selling book "A Brief History of Time" and his update "A Briefer History of Time". He has had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a form of motor neuron disease more commonly known as 'Lou Gehrig's Disease", for more than 42 years -- longer than anyone else in the United Kingdom. When he was first diagnosed at age 21, doctors expected him to live just two years.
Hawking was scheduled for the third and final stop in his lecture tour on November 16. But when he woke up in San Francisco two days earlier, and was taken off his respirator, he stopped breathing and his caregivers had to resuscitate him.
MSNBC reported that Hawking wanted to fly on to Seattle, but at his wife Elaine's insistence, he stayed in the Bay Area. Hawking and his aides then quickly worked with Intel, the Paramount, and the lecture's host, the Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy, to set up a Web-based teleconferencing link from a San Francisco hotel.
At the scheduled time, Hawking's image flashed onto the large screen set up over the Paramount's stage 800 miles away and he began his pre-programmed presentation.
Hawking is paralyzed but now communicates using an Infrared Sound Touch switch that is attached to his glasses and is aimed at his cheek. The device watches Hawking's cheek muscle for movement. When he closes his eye to blink, the muscle moves and sends an infrared beam to the computer, which changes the signal into a computer command, much like a computer mouse, so he can control his computerized voice synthesizer.
To start each section of his prepared text, he blinked an eye, and slightly scrunched up his cheek.
On a side note, when Hawking -- who is considered by many to be one of the most important scientists of our time -- was asked about his IQ, he said simply: "People who boast about their IQ are losers."
"The show goes on for Stephen Hawking" (MSNBC)
"Disability - My Experience with ALS" by Professor Stephen Hawking
"Disability - The Computer" by Professor Stephen Hawking