The birthday boy had to miss out on his birthday since he was “unwell” and the situation doesn’t look too rosy. He was in the hospital and was discharged last Friday. Sunday was too early for him to get out of bed rest. He has defied death for more than 40 years now, given that at an age of 28 he was told that he wouldn’t live for more than 6 months.
The value of words
Repeated illnesses like pneumonia have robbed him of his voice. Now he can barely more a muscle of his cheek. This creates pressure differences on a nearby sensor and this lets him choose particular letters, words or phrases on a computerized system to which he is wired. These are then put together and the composition is read out using a computerized voice. However, old age is threatening to seize even this meager resource he has. Deterioration of cheek muscle is making him harder to compose his spoken words. This is the reason why he always asks for questions to be submitted before an event, so that he may compose the answers beforehand. On a certain occasion during his TED Talk, he took 7 minutes to compose a sentence as an answer to a question from the audience, which wasn’t submitted to him beforehand.
Hawking’s 70th birthday will be marked by the opening of a new exhibition of his achievements at the London’s Science Museum on the 20th of January.
Hang in there Stephen, like you always have.