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We’re saluting Stephen Hawking – the ‘older worker’

by on January 16, 2015

Well, it’s Oscar nominations week and Eddie Redmayne has been deservedly nominated as Best Actor for his brilliant portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything.

But what about the subject of this biopic? I saw the film recently (highly recommended – there were extended periods during the screening when you could have heard a pin drop in my local cinema) and at the very end displayed on the screen was a statement to the effect that Stephen Hawking is now 72 and has no plans to retire. Which got me thinking. For one thing, having been diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, all those years ago and given 2 years to live when he was only 21, Professor Hawking’s very survival seems to have been against the odds. Yet he has done so much more than just survive. As encapsulated in this review in the New York Observer, he ‘is still a living symbol of how much the brain can achieve when the body gives up’.

He held the post of Cambridge University’s Lucasian Professor of Mathematics for 30 years, a seat once held by Sir Isaac Newton. Under university rules, holders of the seat have to give it up once they reach 67 so he formally retired from this position when he reached that age (I wonder if that age limit is still in place?). According to his official website Professor Hawking is still an active part of Cambridge University, retaining an office in the Department for Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics. We salute you!

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