Stephen Hawking to visit Canada in September

Physicist Stephen Hawking will come to Canada in September to open a new research centre in Waterloo, Ont., named after him.
Stephen Hawking toured the new addition to the Perimeter Institute when he visited in 2010. (Perimeter Institute)
Physicist Stephen Hawking will come to Canada in September to open a new research centre in Waterloo, Ont., named after him.

The Stephen Hawking Centre at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics will hold its grand opening Sept. 16-18, and Hawking is expected to attend, the institute said this week.

Exact details of his arrival are "still to come," and the institute could not yet say whether or not Hawking will give a public lecture as he did during his 2010 research visit.

Hawking, who retired from his post at Cambridge University in England in 2009, is one of the best-known theoretical physicists in the world. He has published influential papers on black holes and a number of popular science books, including the 1989 bestseller A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.

Hawking has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which affects the nerve cells needed for motion. That means he needs a wheelchair to get around and uses a computer to speak, but it hasn't stopped him from having a productive career.

The Perimeter Institute, a public-private research facility founded in 1999 by Research In Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, announced the $29 million expansion in 2009. At that time, the facility's director, Neil Turok, said the institute was "delighted" that Hawking allowed his name to be associated with the expansion, as he was an "inspirational" figure.

The Stephen Hawking Centre, which wraps around the original building, will nearly double the floor space available at the research facility. (Perimeter Institute)
When the new centre opens, it will nearly double the size of the research complex from 65,000 to 120,000 square feet and create space for more than 150 new researchers to join the 80 already there. The researchers cover areas of theoretical physics ranging from superstring theory to quantum gravity to particle physics.

The expansion wraps around the original building and is funded by a public-private partnership with the federal government's Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario's Ministry of Research and Innovation.

Events celebrating its opening will also include tours of the facility, public lectures and informal "pub" and "club" chats with researchers.

During Hawking's last visit to the institute in 2010, he gave a public lecture on the origin of the universe and conducted research in Waterloo for more than a month.