In July 2004, Hawking lost a long-time bet with Kip Thorne from CalTech. Originally, Hawking postulated that no information can cross the event horizon of a black hole. However, at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin, Ireland, he announced that he believed black holes will eventually transmit information about the matter that is swallowed.
In preparation for his 2009 sub-orbital spaceflight on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipOne, Hawking flew on the Zero Gravity Corporation's “Vomit Comet" on April 26, 2007. This made Hawking the first quadriplegic to float in zero gravity.
Stephen Hawking has also been canonized in two popular science fiction programs, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Red Dwarf as well as a guest appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
With all of his professional success, perhaps Stephen Hawking's greatest achievement is his overcoming extensive medical problems. While in his last year of college, he began to lose motor control of his body. In 1963, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Hawking's condition continued to deteriorate until he was confined to a wheelchair.
While at the Geneva CERN particle accelerator in 1985, Hawking was again afflicted with another illness. He fell ill with pneumonia and was placed on life support. After being flown to Cambridge, he was sent to Addenbrooke's Hospital, which performed a tracheotomy. This save his life, however left him without a voice. This is how he was forced to use the famous computer system which gives him an electronic voice.
On April 20, 2009, Hawking was hospitalized for a chest infection. He was again admitted to Addenbrooke's Hospital and made a full recovery. This event, combined with the rigors of aging, prompted Hawking to make a decision to step down as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.