Visionary British physicist Stephen Hawking died at his home in Cambridge early Wednesday at age 76, his family said in a statement.

Stephen Hawking Death News

The Cambridge University-educated scientist was best known for his groundbreaking work on black holes and the Theory of Relativity. Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a motor neuron disease more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 1963 when he was 21 years old and was estimated to live just two more years. He subsequently spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, and was taken care of by his first wife Jane Wilde, a linguistics student he met while studying at Cambridge and married in 1965. The couple had three children together.

In a statement his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.”

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”

They praised his “courage and persistence” and said his “brilliance and humour” inspired people across the world.

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

Hawking was not only known for his brilliant mind but also for his delightful sense of humor. He made several guest appearances on television shows like The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Hawking even gave England’s soccer team advice for how to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The 2014 Academy Award-nominated film The Theory of Everything, directed by James Marsh, depicted Hawking’s early life. Eddie Redmayne played the physicist and won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance. In a statement, Redmayne — who met Hawking while shooting the film — stated: “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist, and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in a BBC drama, said he was “a true inspiration for me and for millions around the world.”

Hawking’s most famous book “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes” was published in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies and inspired a documentary film by Errol Morris. 

The physicist said in an interview in 1978 of particles emerging from a black hole: “I wasn’t looking for them at all. I merely tripped over them. I was rather annoyed.”

Hawking also published thesis in 1974 in the journal Nature under the title “Black Hole Explosions?,” which is regarded by many scientists as the first great landmark in the struggle to find a single theory of nature — to connect gravity and quantum mechanics.

In April 2007, a few months after his 65th birthday, Hawking participated in a zero-gravity flight aboard a specially equipped Boeing 727.

When asked why he decided to take part in this, Hawking said: “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”

In 1995, Hawking separated from Wilde and married Elaine Mason, a nurse who had cared for him since he was first diagnosed with pneumonia. She had been married to David Mason, the engineer who had attached Dr. Hawking’s speech synthesizer to his wheelchair.

In 2004, British newspapers reported that Cambridge police were investigating allegations that Elaine had abused Hawking. However, no charges were filed and Hawking denied the claims. The couple divorced in 2006.

Hawking was also named a commander of the British Empire in 1982.

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