The renowned British physicist Professor Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.
He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning, his family said.
Prof Hawking, one of the world’s finest scientific minds, was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease at the age of 22 and was given just a few years to live. He became confined to a wheelchair and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication.
However he continued to travel the world giving lectures and writing scientific papers about the basic laws that govern the universe. Prof Hawking explained the Big Bang and black holes in his best-selling book A Brief History Of Time.
Tributes are pouring in from around the world, Prime Minister Theresa May said he was “a brilliant and extraordinary mind – one of the great scientists of his generation” whose “courage, humour and determination to get the most from life was an inspiration”.
The University of Cambridge said he was “an inspiration to millions” and his work will leave “an indelible legacy”.
Eddie Redmayne, who starred as Professor Hawking in The Theory Of Everything, said in a statement: “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.”
In a statement early on Wednesday, Prof Hawking’s 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.”
Prof Hawking was born on January 8 1942 in Oxford, the eldest of four children, and went on to become one of the world’s most acclaimed cosmologists
Nasa remembered Prof Hawking as a “renowned physicist and ambassador of science”, while inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, said: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit. Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking.”
British astronaut Tim Peake said Prof Hawking “inspired generations to look beyond our own blue planet and expand our understanding of the universe”.
A rare genius RIP Stephen Hawking