British physicist Stephen Hawking wont be moving to Waterloo, Ont.

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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TORONTO - Reports that physicist Stephen Hawking was looking at leaving the University of Cambridge for a new career in Waterloo, Ont., have been dismissed by aides for the sci-fi icon, but Canadian experts say it's no surprise the region would be considered a suitable home for a world-renowned scientist.
"The local geography might be further down the list than other criteria like who else might he be working with, who are the other minds he'll be able to tap into," said technology expert Tom Vassos, a professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.
But Vassos said while Waterloo may not hold the glamour of New York City, the southern Ontario city is known worldwide as a centre of technology and innovation.
On Wednesday, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported the 66-year-old scientist was mulling over a decision to move to Canada to work at the Perimeter Institute, a research centre devoted to theoretical physics that was founded in 1999 by Research In Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis.
It was rumoured Hawking would follow his good friend and Cambridge University colleague Neil Turok, who will be heading up the Perimeter Institute in the fall.
Hawking and other scientists in the United Kingdom recently expressed outrage over the British government's decision to cut millions of dollars in scientific funding.
Hawking has called the $160 million in cuts disastrous, saying it would "cause enormous damage both to British science" and Britain's "international reputation."
Turok decided to leave Cambridge after similar complaints about lack of funding.
The university refused to spend $40 million on expanding the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and would not convert the centre into the Hawking Institute.
Turok told the Daily Telegraph he is keeping the "door open" for Hawking to join him at the Perimeter Institute.
Those comments fuelled international buzz that Hawking, the award-winning author of "A Brief History of Time" who has been immortalized in cartoons and television cameos, would bring his talents to Waterloo.
But the rumours surrounding Hawking's possible move were quickly dismissed by his aides.
"It has been a little exaggerated," said Hawking's graduate assistant Sam Blackburn, adding that while Hawking intends to visit Turok in Waterloo, he would likely only stay a week.
Hawking's personal assistant Judith Croasdell said Turok's complaints about funding may be justified, but there are no immediate plans for Hawking to leave Cambridge.
"I think he thought he was going to be part of the brain drain, and this isn't actually correct - he's not," Croasdell said.
But the door hasn't been closed entirely on Hawking moving to Waterloo, said Perimeter Institute spokesman John Matlock.
The opportunity for Hawking to work in the region is not out of the question since hundreds of scientists from around the world descend on the Perimeter Institute each year, staying weeks or months to collaborate on research, said Matlock, who referred to Hawking as a "sci-lebrity."
"It just happens to be in the populist culture that Stephen Hawking is well known, but we already have top pre-eminent physicists who visit here regularly - they're just not in the public consciousness," Matlock said. "They haven't done `Star Trek' or `The Simpsons."'

Organizations: Perimeter Institute, Cambridge University, Daily Telegraph University of Toronto Rotman School of Management Research In Motion Centre for Theoretical Cosmology Hawking Institute

Geographic location: Waterloo, United Kingdom, TORONTO Cambridge New York City Southern Ontario Canada

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