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Professor Hawking: A Leading Role Model For Youth
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 8, 2004

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND--Teenage boys in England look up to Professor Stephen Hawking more than nearly every other public figure, according to the results of a poll published Wednesday.

Five hundred boys from 16 to 18 years of age were asked by Good Housekeeping Magazine who they look up to the most.

The teens named England's Rugby World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson as their greatest role model.

Hawking was named a close second, well ahead of England's popular football captain David Beckham and boxing champion Lennox Lewis.

Hawking, a professor of Mathematics and Cambridge University, is the author of "A Brief History of Time". He has had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a form of motor neuron disease also known as 'Lou Gehrig's Disease", for more than 40 years -- longer than anyone else in the country. When he was first diagnosed, doctors expected him to live just two years.

Considered by many to be the greatest scientist of his time, Hawking is paralyzed except for some fingers he uses to operate a computerized voice box.

"Over the years I've been voted the second most intelligent person in Britain and was amused to be listed among the world's 10 sexiest men," he told the magazine. "But I'm honored to be an inspiring role model. Thank you."

Jonny Wilkinson said, "I'm hugely flattered to come first, especially when I'm seen alongside Stephen Hawking."

Lindsay Nicholson, editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping, explained that the list shows teenage boys value talent and excellence in any field.

"They are not voting for just enviable or 'cool' lifestyles and are deferential to those genuinely accomplished and respected," she said. "It certainly casts doubt over popular opinions that teenage boys are doing little more than play violent computer games and that this age-group is slipping further into social decline."

Hawking's January 2001 visit to India inadvertently prompted changes in how many in the country viewed wheelchair accessibility. Officials that had invited the esteemed scientist to speak at several Indian universities were highly embarrassed when their guest had to be carried from place to place because of a lack of wheelchair ramps.

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