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Stephen Hawking the world’s most famous physicist plans to leave Britain

Posted by 3citynewswire on 03/03/2010

Professor Stephen Hawking is planning to abandon Cambridge University after nearly 50 years and move to Canada in protest at Government cuts.

The world’s most famous physicist has become frustrated with falling university budgets, which he believes are scuppering scientific discoveries.

The departure of Professor Hawking, who began work in Cambridge in 1962, would be a massive blow to the university and to British scholarship.

The 68-year-old – who has made key advances in theoretical physics while almost completely paralysed by motor neurone disease – said restrictions in grants mean scientific research in Britain is increasingly focused on its industrial application rather than the pursuit of knowledge and discovery.

The best-selling author of A Brief History Of Time is to spend two months at the Perimeter Institute, in Ontario, this summer and, if all goes to plan, hopes to make the move permanent.

Yesterday his spokesman said Professor Hawking ‘remained heavily critical of the Government’s policy on science funding’, saying it risked ending Britain’s history of world-class thinkers.

In an attempt to reduce the Government’s deficit, cuts to higher education amounting to roughly £1billion over three years have been announced.

His graduate assistant Sam Blackburn said: ‘Professor Hawking is considering a move but it would depend on whether his trip to the institute is successful.’

However, a move abroad would present Professor Hawking with difficulties as his disability means he requires an entourage including carers and a graduate assistant to operate his voice synthesiser.

And he would leave behind his adapted home and members of his family from his first marriage to Jane Hawking, with whom he was reconciled in 2007 after a divorce from second wife Elaine Mason.

Professor Hawking would follow his former colleague Neil Turok, an authority on mathematical physics, who left for the institute in 2008.

Professor Turok has said the ‘door is open’ for Professor Hawking to join him permanently and has stated that the physicist’s summer visit ‘is the first of many’.

In contrast to Cambridge, the Perimeter Institute – set up seven years ago by Mike Lazaridis, the creator of the BlackBerry handheld device – has raised substantial funding from private donations.

It is ironic that Professor Hawking would leave Cambridge, which has arguably done more to advance the understanding of science than any university in the world.

It is where Charles Darwin formulated the theory of evolution and Francis Crick and James Watson identified the structure of DNA.

Professor Hawking’s distant predecessor as its Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, Sir Isaac Newton, founded modern science with his laws of motion and gravity.

A spokesman for Cambridge University, said: ‘Professor Hawking has no plans to leave Cambridge at present. However, he will be a regular visitor to the Perimeter Institute for research purposes.’

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