Renowned Physicist Stephen Hawking Dies At 76
Renowned physicist and author Stephen Hawking died on Wednesday of complications arising from his 55-year struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a debilitating neurodegenerative disease.
He was 76 years old.
His children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim, made a brief statement reported by the BBC. "We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today," they said. "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years."
The New York Times reported that his death was confirmed by officials at Cambridge University.
Born in Oxford on January 8, 1942, Hawking was raised in London before going on to earn a first-class degree in physics at Oxford followed by postgraduate research in cosmology at Cambridge, where he was first diagnosed with ALS. Despite being given only two or three years to live, Hawking married and had children, though the disease eventually left him confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak except through a synthesizer.
Hawking was best known for his work on black holes, much of which became a matter of huge public interest after the 1988 publication of his book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, which went on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide.
Hawking's life story was made into a feature film, The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne in 2014. Redmayne took home the Oscar for best actor for his performance of Hawking. The Guardian notes that the film wasn't Hawking's first appearance in popular culture: he was seen in both The Simpsons and, of course, Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he appeared as his hologram playing poker with Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.
As news of Hawking's death spread early Wednesday morning, many took to Twitter to express their grief over Hawking's passing and their gratitude for his work.
"We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special."— Star Trek Online (@trekonlinegame) March 14, 2018
Rest in Peace, Stephen Hawking. pic.twitter.com/GOVoRe9pU8
Goodbye, Dr. Hawking. Thank you for sharing your beautiful mind with this pale blue dot. pic.twitter.com/7XIHFBjo3z— Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) March 14, 2018
His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018. pic.twitter.com/nAanMySqkt— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 14, 2018
His children's statement closed with a reminder that his life – and that all of our life – is something worth celebrating.
And so will we.
Rest in Peace, Dr. Hawking. You will be missed.