Stephen Hawking, renowned British scientist, dies aged 76
Iconic scientist Stephen Hawking, whose ideas shaped modern cosmology, died today at his home in Cambridge. He was 76. One of this era's most brilliant minds, the Briton was known for his work with relativity and black holes. He had authored several groundbreaking books, including A Brief History of Time. Hawking had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease when he was 21.
The family confirms the death
In a statement, Hawking's 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."
A brief history of Hawking's life
Hawking was born in Oxford on January 8, 1942 and grew up in London and St Albans. His father was a research biologist. He went on to get a first-class degree in physics from Oxford, post which he moved to Cambridge for postgraduate research in cosmology. In 1965, he married Jane. They had three children. Thirty years later, he married Elaine Mason, his nurse.
The warped voice and the wheelchair
While at Cambridge, Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. In 1964, doctors gave him two-three years to live. The terminal disease was to gradually leave him almost completely paralyzed, but it was only afterwards that his revolutionary work began. In fact, his disability, wheelchair and warped voice (through a synthesizer) were to become some of the personality's most distinguishing features.
The "theory of everything" and Hawking radiation
Among Hawking's most prominent works is the Hawking radiation phenomenon, where black holes lose energy and fade to nothing. But more famous was his "theory of everything," which suggested the universe evolves according to well-defined laws. In 1988, he completed his first book, A Brief History of Time, dubbed "the most popular book never read." His second, Universe in a Nutshell, came in 2001.
The scientist known for his sarcasm and wicked humor
Hawking was known for his intuition and wicked humor. He used to drive wildly along the Cambridge streets on his wheelchair and was notorious for running over students' toes. He appeared in many shows on screen, including 'The Big Bang Theory' and 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.' In 2014, the film 'The Theory of Everything' was released, based on Jane's account of their marriage.
Some of Hawking's precious gems
Hawking's quotes continue to delight. "My goal is simple. It's a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all." He warned intelligent extraterrestrial life might exist, but aliens might just plunder the earth. Once he said his disability hadn't stopped him from being successful and having an attractive family. "It shows one needn't lose hope."