Stephen Hawking’s Reith Lecture postponed after scientist falls ill

World-renowned physicist has been forced to put off his address on Black Holes at the Royal Institution on Thursday

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Professor Stephen Hawking has been forced to pull out of delivering this week’s BBC Reith Lecture due to illness.

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The world-renowned physicist, who suffers from Motor Neurone Disease, was due to deliver the prestigious lecture, which was to be about Black Holes, at the Royal Institution in central London on Thursday. 

A statement on the Reith Lectures website says: “Unfortunately the planned Reith recording on Thursday night will no longer be going ahead as Professor Hawking is unwell. We are postponing the broadcast of the lectures on Radio 4 and are liaising with Professor Hawking and his team about the next steps once he is better.”

An audience of leading figures from academia, science and the arts was due to be in attendance for the talk which Professor Hawking said hoped would “encourage people to imagine and explore the possibilities of science – both the known, and the as yet unknown”. The lecture was due to begin airing on Radio 4 in a series of programmes beginning on Tuesday November 24.

“I will describe the remarkable properties of black holes, including the fact that very small black holes aren’t black at all, but glow like hot bodies,” he said.

“We should never stop trying to tell these extraordinary stories from science, and I hope my Reith Lecture will enthuse a new generation to develop ideas that will have an impact on our understanding of the world and never to be overwhelmed by the task of discovery.”

The BBC Reith Lectures began in 1948, with a talk by philosopher Bertrand Russell. Last year, surgeon Atul Gawande gave a talk about the future of medicine.

Past lecturers include artist Grayson Perry, politician Aung San Suu Kyi and conductor Daniel Barenboim.

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Professor Hawking’s lecture coincides with BBC Radio 4’s plans to mark the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity with a series of programmes.