Video: Hawking to retire from Cambridge post

updated 11/28/2008 5:12:26 PM ET 2008-11-28T22:12:26

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking has accepted a research post with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, according to the institute's director.

Neil Turok said Hawking has been given the title of distinguished research chair and will make regular visits to the southwestern Ontario city beginning next summer as part of his new role. He is retiring from his post at Cambridge University.

"I am honored to accept the first Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute," Hawking said in a statement Thursday. "The Institute's twin focus on quantum theory and gravity, is very close to my heart and central to explaining the origin of the Universe."

Hawking said he looks forward to building a growing partnership between the institute and the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge.

Hawking, 66, is currently Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a title once held by the great 18th-century physicist Isaac Newton.

He was appointed to the chair in 1979, and will retire from his prestigious post next year. University policy is that officeholders must retire at the end of the academic year in which they become 67. Hawking will reach that milestone on Jan. 8.

Hawking became a scientific celebrity through his theories disproving the belief that black holes are so dense that nothing could escape their gravitational pull. He showed that black holes leak a tiny bit of light and other types of radiation, now known as Hawking radiation.

His research also included theories about the nature of time — work that he continued to carry out despite becoming paralyzed by motor neuron disease.

His 1988 book, "A Brief History of Time" was an international best-seller; "A Briefer History of Time," intended to be more accessible, followed in 2005.

"George's Secret Key to the Universe," co-authored with Hawking's daughter Lucy, was published last year for the children's market.

The Perimeter Institute is a research center devoted to theoretical physics. It was founded in 1999 by Mike Lazaridis, the co-chief executive of Research In Motion Ltd., the company that makes the BlackBerry.

"The appointment marks a new phase in our recruitment that will see leading scientists from around the world establish a second research home at Perimeter Institute," said Turok. "I am delighted that Stephen has agreed to accept the first of a projected 40 such visiting chairs."

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