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Isaac Newton's Slot to Open Up

October 28, 2008

Time stops for no one. The numbers have a way of catching up with you—even if you're Stephen Hawking. The world-famous scientist who holds the world-famous Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge can't get around an obstacle called mandatory retirement. 

Hawking's university requires that officeholders step down at the end of the academic year in which they reach the prime number of 67. Hawking, who was appointed to the chair in 1979, reaches that age on Jan. 8, 2009. He will, however, become Emeritus Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

"We look forward to him continuing his academic work at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, playing a leading role in research in cosmology and gravitation," said department head Peter Haynes.

The Lucasian professorship was founded in 1663 by Henry Lucas, who left 4,000 books and land expected to yield 100 pounds a year to the university. King Charles II officially established the position in 1664. Isaac Newton held the post (1669–1702), as did Charles Babbage (1828–1839) and Paul Dirac (1932–1969).

Cambridge University hasn't indicated yet whether it's seeking applicants for the open slot in mathematics.

Source: Associated Press, Oct. 24, 2008.


Start Date: 
Tuesday, October 28, 2008