Stephen Hawking undergoing tests to diagnose trouble

Famed scientist, who suffers from ALS, is "comfortable"; family hopes for full recovery

Stephen Hawking, one of the world's most famous scientists, is in stable condition and undergoing tests at a British Hospital.

Hawking, 67, is being held for observation at Addenbrooke's Hospital at the University of Cambridge, England, where he is a mathematics professor. "He is comfortable and his family is looking forward to him making a full recovery," said a spokesman for the university, which is northeast of London, Tuesday morning.

The world renowned physicist was admitted to the hospital Monday. At the time, the spokesman said that Hawking had been suffering from a chest infection for the last several weeks. Tuesday, however, he said that the infection didn't seem to be the cause of Hawking's current medical issue, but he declined to give details.

Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time and the man many experts consider to be the top theoretical physicist in history, is undergoing a series of tests to try to pinpoint the problem, added the spokesman.

After news hit Monday that Hawking was ill, the immediate and crushing flow of online traffic to his official Web site forced administrators to take its pages offline and replaced it with a brief statement about Hawking's admittance to the hospital.

The scientist suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's Disease. The disease is an incurable, progressive and degenerative disorder that causes muscle weakness and atrophy. He was diagnosed with ALS when he was 21.

ALS does not affect cognitive processes or the senses, according to WebMD.

Hawking's book, which was on the British Sunday Times bestseller list for 237 weeks, was first published in 1988. It took on complex questions, like: How did the universe begin? Will it end? If so, how will it end? Hawking didn't try to answer the questions for his physics and mathematical colleagues. Instead, he wrote it for the average person who wanted someone to walk him through the expanse of the galaxy, exploring black holes and the idea of alternate dimensions.

The British professor, who was born in Oxford, England, in 1942, is known for his study of cosmology, which focuses on the universe in its totality, along with his work on quantum gravity, which is theoretical physics. He focused a good deal of his work on black holes, predicting that they emit radiation, which is generally known as Hawking radiation.

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