The famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has announced on his website that he is hiring a technical assistant to help develop and maintain his computer-assisted speech system. Hawking lost his voice in a tracheotomy surgical procedure in 1985.
Hawking, 69, who suffers from a neurodegenerative disorder called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neurone disease, uses a computerized system attached to his wheelchair to generate a synthetic voice with a robotic monotone. Space.com reports that the computer can connect to the Internet and has universal infrared remote controls that help him open doors, switch on lights and watch TV. Stephen Hawking describes how his speech synthesizer works:
"I have always used IBM compatible computers, on my wheel chair...On the computer, I run a program called Equalizer, written by a company called Words Plus inc. A cursor moves across the upper part of the screen. I can stop it by pressing a switch in my hand. This switch is my only interface with the computer. In this way I can select words, which are printed on the lower part of the screen. When I have built up a sentence, I can send it to a speech synthesizer."
Information posted on Stephen Hawking's website, on December 22, says he needs a technical assistant to help him continue functioning "within the physics community." The ideal candidate must have knowledge of computers and electronics and must be able to maintain his wheelchair computer system without the aid of a manual. He also must be able to work under pressure. The candidate must be ready to travel, and should expect to spend three months of a year abroad. The candidate must also be able to deal with the media and handle press inquiries
White House (Pete Souza) / Maison Blanche (Pete Souza)
Stephen Hawking with Barack Obama at the White House
The salary for the job is listed at around 25,000 pounds ($38,500) a year, and the tentative starting date for the job is February 20 to 27, 2012.
If you are an admirer of Professor Stephen Hawking with the prerequisite experience and skills, this might be an opportunity to work with the world famous scientist who has done pioneering work on black holes and has written several popular books on cosmology.
More information may be found on his website.