Stephen Hawking to give up prestigious Cambridge title

Stephen Hawking, one of the world's most well-known scientists, will retire from his prestigious post at Cambridge University next year, but intends to continue his studies of time and space at the university.

Stephen Hawking, one of the world's most well-known scientists, will retire from his prestigious post at Cambridge University next year, but intends to continue his studies of time and space at the university.

Hawking, 66, is Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a title once held by the great 18th century physicist Isaac Newton.

The university said Friday that he would step down at the end of the academic year in September 2009, but would continue working under the title of 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 Professor Peter Haynes, who heads the department.

University policy is that officeholders must retire when they become 67, a spokesman said. Hawking will reach that milestone on Jan. 8.

Hawking, known best for his book A Brief History of Time, became a scientific celebrity through his theories on black holes and the nature of time, work that he carried on despite becoming paralyzed by motor neurone disease.

Hawking first earned prominence for his theoretical work on black holes. Disproving the belief that black holes are so dense that nothing could escape their gravitational pull, he showed that black holes leak a tiny bit of light and other types of radiation, now known as "Hawking radiation."