Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hawking...making a protest?

Who cares.

"Hawking denies plans to leave Britain in protest against funding cuts"

Media reports that the renowned physicist was considering a move to Canada are unfounded


Richard Moore

March 3rd 2010


Contrary to media reports this week, Stephen Hawking, the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, has no plans to leave the UK for Canada in protest at the Government’s cuts in funding for higher education.

This summer, Professor Hawking intends to make a two-month visit to the privately-funded Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Ontario, where he already holds the visiting position of Distinguished Research Chair.

A report in the Daily Mail suggested that this visit was a precursor to taking up a permanent position at the Institute. According to Professor Hawking’s website, though, this is untrue.

On the website’s blog it was said: “It looks like Stephen's graduate assistant, Sam Blackburn, has been misquoted again. He told Kate Loveys, a Daily Mail reporter, that Stephen Hawking has no plans whatsoever to move abroad permanently. The quote ‘Professor Hawking is considering a move...’ is definitely false.”

This is not the first time that Professor Hawking has been rumoured to have been considering to move away from Cambridge: it was reported in 2008 that he would take up a post the Perimeter Institute, but the University of Cambridge quickly denied that this was true.

The University has taken a similar action now, and released a statement on Wednesday which stated that “Professor Stephen Hawking is Director of Research in the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. He will remain so in the long term. As part of his research he expects to make annual visits to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada."

A former colleague of Hawking from Cambridge, Professor Neil Turok, moved to the Institute in 2008, and was quoted as saying that, though the visit in the summer is only temporary, “the door is open” for Professor Hawking to move to Canada permanently.

The Perimeter Institute extended a standing offer of employment to Professor Hawking in 2008, but the renowned physicist has no current plans to take it up. “Stephen hopes to visit Perimeter Institute regularly, perhaps once a year,” said Hawking on his website, “but is not considering a permanent move.”

Professor Hawking has been sharply critical of the Government’s plans to cut £1 billion of funding for higher education in the UK over the next three years.

He claims that reducing budgets for research, and placing more emphasis on the industrial application of scientific work than the discovery for knowledge for its own sake, will end the UK’s tradition of cutting-edge research, and slow down scientific progress. A move to Canada in protest at these cuts, though, is not in prospect.

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