The world has woken up in mourning today, Wednesday 14 March, with the news that renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. 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."
Speaking of his "courage and persistence", his "brilliance and humour", the statement continues: "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."
Fascinated by the complexity of the universe, Professor Hawking dedicated his life to trying to understand it. Living a life rich with discoveries, the eminent scientist made important advancements in theories of gravitation and quantum physics. His biggest breakthrough came in the 1970s with his work explaining black holes with fellow physicist Roger Penrose.
Offering an immeasurable contribution to science, Prof Hawking set out his work in a series of books – among which the best-seller A Brief History of Time – making his complicated discoveries accessible to all. Intent on democratizing knowledge, the scientist's fame led him to play himself in series' like Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons. A film focusing on his life, The Theory of Everything, won Eddie Redmayne his first Oscar in 2015.
As a graduate student in 1963, the physicist learned he had a neuromuscular wasting disease known as Lou Gehrig's disease leaving his bodily control reduced to eye movements, but his mind untouched. Given just two years to live at the time, Stephen Hawking went on to become a symbol of determination.
Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science. His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014 pic.twitter.com/FeR4fd2zZ5— NASA (@NASA) 14 March 2018