PASADENA (AP) — Stephen Hawking’s annual pilgrimage to Caltech has lured hundreds to hear the genius hailed as the rock star of physics and the “nerd pope.”

Tuesday night’s crowd snaked outside the auditorium at Pasadena’s California Institute of Technology long before the 69-year-old Hawking rolled down the red-carpeted aisle in his computerized wheelchair.

There were whoops and clapping in what physics fan Evan Hetland said was like seeing the nerd pope.

The Los Angeles Times says Hawking — in a speech transmitted through a voice generator — told his admirers that his medical research father wanted him to go into medicine.

But he wasn’t interested to medicine.

Hawking says the smartest people do math and physics, noting physics is different than medicine because it doesn’t matter what school you attend or who you are related to.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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