New Delhi: Renowned British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died on Wednesday, March 14, after suffering from complications due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - a progressive neurodegenerative disease. He was 76.
His family's spokesperson issued an official statement, which said: 'It is with great sadness we announce the death of Professor Stephen Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA at the age of 76. Professor Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of the morning. His family has kindly requested that they be given the time and privacy to mourn his passing, but they would like to thank everyone who has been by Professor Hawking's side - and supported him - throughout his life.'
Hawking's children Lucy, Robert, and Tim also issued a statement, which 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.'
Born in 1942, Hawking was known as one of the biggest pioneers of science – his life and work fascinating people for decades.
Best known for his work on black holes, the cosmologist theorized that contrary to the prevailing scientific belief that black holes were inescapable for all forms of matter and energy, they actually emitted a form of radiation - now known as Hawking radiation.
He also played a key role in the mathematical effort to unify Einstein’s general theory of relativity with the emergent field of quantum physics.
Hawking skyrocketed to public prominence in 1988, when he published his first general-audience book, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.
The book became a bestseller and sold more than 10 million copies in 20 years. It was on the Sunday Times bestseller list for more than four years.
Using his position as one of the world’s most famous scientists, Hawking discussed and spoke about a wide range of issues from the existence of extraterrestrial life to the nature of philosophy.
Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, more than half a century ago and was given just 10 years to live. Despite his condition, he garnered many achievements to his name, including beating the odds of survival with his medical condition.
In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons and in 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the former President of the US Barack Obama.
The physicist’s inspiring - and turbulent - story was dramatized in the 2014 movie “The Theory of Everything,” which was based on a memoir by Hawking’s first wife, Jane Wilde. Actor Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Hawking in the film won him an Oscar for 'Best Actor'.
The University of Cambridge has offered to open a book of condolence at Gonville and Caius College for anyone who would like to pay tribute to the life and work of Professor Stephen Hawking.