Stephen Hawking hospitalized in Rome


Physics and cosmology master Stephen Hawking was hospitalized in Italy’s capital and underwent a series of tests, a spokesman for the academic said Friday.

Hawking was admitted to Rome’s Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital on Thursday night, according to the representative — a fact acknowledged by the Vatican, where the renowned professor visited with Pope Francis on Monday. Hawking also attended the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Rome this week.

The spokesman said it was decided to take Hawking in for tests Thursday after the cosmologist said we didn’t feel well.

Hawking, 74, suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which causes the death of motor neurons in voluntary muscles and ultimately leads to paralysis. The condition has confined Hawking to a wheelchair for the last 50 years.

A source at the hospital said Hawking will spend another night at Gemelli as a precautionary measure and depart, as scheduled, on Saturday. The hospital source said Hawking’s condition is “under control.”

The Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital is one of Italy’s best and is the primary medical facility used by the Vatican.

Hawking has already defied the odds by living for a half-century longer than doctors initially thought he would. When diagnosed with ALS in 1963, his physicians expected him to die within two years. Instead, he went on to become one of the world’s most eminent scholars in the fields of theoretical physics and cosmology.

The onset of ALS typically occurs late in life, but Hawking was diagnosed unusually early at the age of 21. The disease, which has no cure, ultimately affects patients’ ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. Hawking has been able to speak with the assistance of a computer.