The former Kate Middleton (photo) turns 30 on Monday — but royal fans expecting a lavish birthday bash to mark the milestone will be disappointed. Palace officials say the Duchess of Cambridge’s birthday celebration will be a “low-key and private” affair. The past year has seen momentous changes for Kate, with a fairytale wedding to Prince William, travels around the world and glamorous appearances that marked her transition from commoner to the world’s most talked-about princess and style icon. She has won rave reviews for her sparkle, her elegant sense of style, and her common touch with the public. … Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was not well enough to attend a conference in honor of his 70th birthday Sunday, a University of Cambridge official said. Hawking’s remarkable career is being honored as part of a daylong conference on cosmology being hosted at the university. The official said Hawking would be well enough to meet some of the attendees over the next week. Hawking was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease — an incurable degenerative disorder known as motor neurone disease in the UK — when he was 21. Most people die within a few years of the diagnosis, but Hawking has defied the odds and gone on to revolutionize the field of theoretical astrophysics and become one of the best-known scientists since Albert Einstein. … Muhammad Ali will celebrate his 70th birthday at a private birthday bash in his hometown Louisville, Ky., on the evening of Jan. 14. Ali was born Jan. 17, 1942. The party will also raise funds for the center, a cultural and education complex that features a museum focusing on Ali’s long career as a boxer, social activist and humanitarian.
WHITE NOSE SYNDROME This brown bat in New York in 2008 has white nose syndrome. Scientists trying to stem the spread of the bat-killing disease say it has been definitely proven that the fungus that causes the disease came from Europe and is the latest in a long line of invasive species disrupting the environment in North America.
AP Photo courtesy of Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation