Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

British scientist Stephen Hawking dead at age 76

British scientist Stephen Hawking dead at age 76

World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking died Tuesday at the age of 76.

He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning. "His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world", his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement.

The Briton was known for his ground-breaking work with black holes and relativity, and was the author of several popular science books including "A Brief History of Time".

Hawking suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and was confined to an electric wheelchair for much of his adult life.

Hawking's early struggles with scholarship, love and a devastating diagnosis was chronicled in the award-winning 2014 biopic, "The Theory of Everything". Remarkably, Hawking defied predictions he would only live for a few years, overcoming its debilitating effects on his mobility and speech that left him paralysed and able to communicate only via a computer speech synthesiser.

The influence of Hawking's work was so vast that he reached celebrity status, and during his life, he appeared on shows like Star Trek and The Simpsons.

As one of Isaac Newton's successors as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, Hawking was involved in the search for the great goal of physics - a "unified theory".

His contributions would be studied for years to come, he said. In fact, Hawking's work suggests that an isolated black hole would slowly evaporate away and cease to exist.

Horowitz said the find helped move scientists one step closer to cracking the unified theory. "Asking what happens before the Big Bang is like asking for a point one mile north of the North Pole", he said.

Born on January 8, 1942 - 300 years to the day after the death of the father of modern science, Galileo Galilei - he believed science was his destiny. The disease usually kills within three to five years.

Conversing with Hawking was an interesting experience, often Easther and other physicists would be talking shop and Hawking would chime in on something that had been said a minute or so ago, "ping-ponging" the conversation back. Hawking married his one-time nurse Elaine Mason four years later, but the relationship was dogged by rumors of abuse. I have so much I want to do first.

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