Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. The world-renowned British physicist died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday 14 March, his family has confirmed. 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. His courage and persistence with 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."
Professor Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76
Stephen was best known for his work with black holes and relativity, and authored a number of acclaimed science books, including A Brief History Of Time – one of the most complex books to achieve mass appeal. At the age of 22, he was only given a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. The illness left him confined to a wheelchair and in 1984, aged 44, his voice was removed to save his life after an attack of pneumonia. From then on, the spoke through a voice synthesiser on the arm of his wheelchair. "I am quite often asked: how do you feel about having ALS?" he once wrote. "The answer is, not a lot. I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many."
The British physicist pictured on the red carpet with first wife Jane Hawking (left) and daughter Lucy
Britain's most famous modern day scientist, Stephen dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the universe, with much of his work centred around bringing together relativity – the nature of time and space – and quantum theory – how the smallest particles in the universe behave – to explain the creation of the universe. In 1974, he became one of the youngest fellows of Britain's most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, at the age of 32. Five years later, he was made Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a position previously held by 17th-cenrity British scientist Isaac Newton.
Oxford-born Stephen was also known for his razor-sharp wit, and he gained popularity outside the academic world with appearances in shows including The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory and Red Dwarf. He was also portrayed in both TV and film, most recently by Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, which charted his rise to fame and his relationship with first wife, Jane.
Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne portrayed Stephen in the hit 2014 film, The Theory of Everything
In a 2011 interview with the Guardian, Stephen shared his thoughts on the concept of life after death. "I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first," he said. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."