Professor Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76
Famed physicist and author remembered for his contribution to science
Professor Stephen Hawking has died at his home in Cambridge, aged 76.
Hawking’s family released a statement confirming his death in the early hours of this morning.
His children Lucy, Robert and Tim, paid tribute to their father, saying: “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”
“His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world,” they added.
The BBC described Hawking as “a man of great humour”, who became a “popular ambassador for science” and was “always careful to ensure that the general public had ready access to his work.”
Hawking was best known for his study into black holes and relativity, as well as being the author of several best-selling books, including A Brief History of Time.
Hawking was born on 8 January, 1942, in Oxford, going on to earn a place at Oxford University where he studied natural science in 1959.
He then moved to commence his PhD in cosmology at Cambridge, and was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21, when doctors gave him just two years to live.
However, Hawking had a form of the disease “that progressed more slowly than usual”, The Guardian says, allowing him to survive another 55 years – “long enough for his disability to define him.”
The disease left Hawking almost completely paralysed, reliant on a motorised wheelchair for transport and a distinctive synthesised voice in order to speak.
Hawking’s popularity saw him appear on several television programs, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Simpsons, and his voice was featured on Pink Floyd’s 1994 album The Division Bell.
Tributes to the physicist have started to pour in.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the internet, said on Twitter: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit”.
The US space agency Nasa also tweeted:
American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said the loss of Hawking could not be measured: