Stephen Hawking, world renowned scientist, dies at 76

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World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has sadly died at the age of 76. According to his family he died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday. 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.”

They praised his “courage and persistence” and said 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.”

The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease.The illness left him in a wheelchair and largely unable to speak except through a voice synthesiser. Prof Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology as a union of relativity and quantum mechanics.

He also discovered that black holes leak energy and fade to nothing – a phenomenon that would later become known as Hawking radiation. The scientist gained popularity outside the academic world and appeared in several TV shows including The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory.

He was portrayed in both TV and film – recently by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, which charted his rise to fame and relationship with his first wife, Jane. Redmayne paid tribute to him, saying: “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.”