Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking dies at 76

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Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking addresses a public meeting in Cape Town May 11, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76.

The British scientist and author died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, United Kingdom on Wednesday morning, according to his family. In a statement, his children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim said they are deeply saddened by the passing away of their father.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” they said. “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor 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,” they added.

Following the announcement of his death, tributes started pouring in for Hawking, who has made great contributions to the fields of physics and cosmology and has inspired millions of people by overcoming a debilitating rare disease and demonstrating the potential of the human mind.

At the age of 22, Hawking was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease and was given only a few years to live. The disease left Hawking in a wheelchair and unable to move or speak except through a voice synthesizer.

NASA honored Hawking for his contributions to the study of space. “Today, the world lost a giant among men, whose impact cannot be overstated,” said NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot.

Hawking was a popular figure in pop culture, and he gained fame for his work with black holes and relativity. He also wrote several books, including “A Brief History Of Time,” which he wrote for non-specialist readers who have no prior knowledge of scientific theories.

The scientist also gained great popularity outside the academic world and appeared in a number of television shows, including “The Simpsons,” “Red Dwarf,” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

Hawking was portrayed on television and film. In 2014, the film “The Theory of Everything” starring Eddie Redmayne depicted his rise to fame.