Flight of fancy

London � Stephen Hawking, the scientist who has turned ideas of time and space on their heads, fulfilled a lifelong dream of riding in a hot-air balloon.

On Monday, the 60-year-old theoretical physicist, who has been confined to a wheelchair for most of his life, floated across the Cambridgeshire countryside with his wife, Elaine.

Changes were made to the hot-air balloon's basket to accommodate a wheelchair, according to Virgin Balloon Flights, which arranged the trip.

Julia Child recovering

San Francisco � Julia Child was recuperating after spending a night at a hospital during the weekend with a bout of bronchitis that troubled her breathing.

Child, 89, checked into a San Francisco hospital Saturday afternoon and was released Sunday, according to her assistant, Stephanie Hersh.

She was resting in the Bay Area before the return trip to her Southern California home, Hersh said Monday.

Child had to cancel a planned appearance at a rare wines auction Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. She spoke to those attending the auction by phone from the hospital.

Stray Cat abandoned

Los Angeles � Brian Setzer's wife of nearly eight years has filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences with the singer.

Brian and Christine Setzer were married in September 1994, according to the documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. They have two daughters.

The 42-year-old musician co-founded the rockabilly group the Stray Cats and heads the swing band The Brian Setzer Orchestra. He won a Grammy with the orchestra last year for best pop instrumental performance for "Caravan."

Reeve endorses research

Washington � Actor Christopher Reeve on Tuesday joined the debate in Congress over cloning, endorsing a bill that would allow human embryos to be cloned, but only for medical research.

Reeve, the star of "Superman" movies who was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1995 horse-riding accident, told the Senate Health Committee he was "deeply disturbed by unreasonable attempts to block scientific progress."

The Senate is expected to take up the issue within the next month. The House voted last July to outlaw all human cloning, a position also endorsed by President Bush.

Reeve asked lawmakers to support a bill cosponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., that would allow cloning for research on stem cells.

"Our government is supposed to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people," Reeve said. "Beyond that, we have a moral responsibility to help others."


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