The famous professor Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76 — more than 50 years after he was given only two years to live.
The most celebrated scientist in the world, passed away peacefully at his home in Cambridge this morning, after his long battle with motor neuron disease, his family revealed.
His three children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim, said in a statement:
We are really sad that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist, as well as an extraordinary man whose work and legacy is going to live one for many years. Once he said: ‘it would not be much of a Universe if it were not home to the people that you love.’ We will miss him forever.
They also said the courage, as well as persistence, brilliance, and humor of their father, inspired people all over the world.
Professor Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease back in 1963 when we were only 21, and he defied medical experts that said he would be dead within two years.
In the following 55 years, he also became the most famous scientist since Albert Einstein in the world, because of his work exploring the mysteries of space, time and black holes, despite being wheelchair-bound and only able to communicate by using a computer and his famous voice synthesizer.
Stephen Toope, the vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said:
His exceptional contributions to scientific knowledge, as well as the popularization of science and mathematics, have left an indelible legacy. His character was just an inspiration to millions of people around the world.
‘A Brief History of Time,’ which is his most famous book, became an international bestseller with more than 10 million copies sold – even though the physicist joked himself that a lot of those who owned it never finished it and more struggled to understand its complexity.
The Cambridge-based scientist, who married twice, embraced popular culture when he appeared in The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek, Futurama and Little Britain.
He also said that he embraced popular culture as he wanted to make science more mainstream, as well as encourage the world to ‘look up at the stars and not down at your feet.’ In a recent poll, he was also voted the 25th greatest Briton of all time.
Professor Stephen Hawking was immortalized in the 2014 Oscar-winning biopic The Theory of Everything, and his character was played by Eddie Redmayne.
Today, the actor said:
We have lost a truly beautiful mind, as well as an astonishing scientist and the funniest man that I have ever had the possibility and pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.
The Prime Minister, Theresa May also said that Dr. Hawking was ‘a brilliant, as well as extraordinary mind – one of the greatest scientist of his generation whose courage, humor and determination to get the most from life, was an inspiration for all.’
The most famous work of Dr. Hawking included a mathematical model for Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and the nature of the Universe such as The Big Bang and Black Holes.
He also wrote or co-wrote 15 books, all in the face of a few health problems.
Paying tribute to him Astronomer Royal Professor Lord Martin Rees, who is also emeritus professor of cosmology and astrophysics at the University of Cambridge said:
Tragedy struck when Stephen Hawking was only 22 years old. He was diagnosed with a deadly disease, and his expectations dropped to zero. He said that everything that occurred since then was a bonus. And what a triumph his life has been.
His name is going to live in the annals of science; millions have had their cosmic horizons widened by his best-selling books; and even more, around the world, have also been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds – a manifestation of amazing will-power, as well as determination.
NASA also remembered Professor Hawking as a ‘renowned physicist and ambassador of science.’
The organization tweeted:
His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities which we and the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space-Station in 2014.
Dr. Hawking was born on the 8th of January, 1942 in Oxford, England.
His family had moved to Oxford from North London to escape the threat of World War II rockets.
When we were 8, they moved St. Albans, a town which is about 20 miles north of the capital, where he would attend St. Albans School and later University College, Oxford, where his father attended.
His prodigious talent, as well as unorthodox study methods, meant that he used few books and also made no notes, but could still solve problems like no other students.
He had the wish to study mathematics, but the subject was not available at the college, so he chose physics instead.
In 1962, he went to the University of Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics to research cosmology.
Three years later, in 1965, he also received his Ph.D. with his thesis ‘Properties of Expanding Universes’ and would soon publish his first academic book ‘The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time.’
When he as 21, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is a nervous system disease which weakens the muscles and also affects physical function.
But, this was not an obstacle for him — he continued his scientific work, appeared on TV and married for the second time.
He was also included in the search for the great goal of physics, which was called a ‘unified theory.’ Such a theory would resolve the contradictions between Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which also describes the laws of gravity which govern the motion of large objects such as planets, and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics that deals with the world of subatomic particles.
For Dr. Hawking, the search was an almost religious quest – he said that finding a ‘theory of everything’ would also permit mankind to ‘know the mind of God.’
After that, in his most famous Book ‘A Brief History of Time,’ he wrote that ‘a complete, as well as consistent, unified theory, is just the first step: our goal is a complete understanding of the events happening around us and of our existence as well.’
In later year, he also suggested that a unified theory might not exist.
The combination of his best-selling book and his almost disability — for a while he could only use a few fingers, and later he could just tighten the muscles on his face — made him one of the most recognizable faces of science.
His early life was chronicled in the 2014 film, known as ‘The Theory of Everything,’ with Eddie Redmayne winning the best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of the scientist. The film particularly focused still more attention on the remarkable achievements of Hawking.
Some colleagues credited that celebrity with generating new enthusiasm for science.
His achievements, as well as his longevity, helped to prove many that even the most severe disabilities need not stop patients from living.
RIP Stephen Hawking