Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking dead at 76

File Stephen Hawking dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe

File Stephen Hawking dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe

Stephen Hawking, the famous scientist, is dead at the age of 76, his children have confirmed.

He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of this morning, according to a statement from his family. His courage and persistence with 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", they said. Hawking lived with the normally fatal illness for over 50 years. 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. But Hawking had a form of the disease that progressed more slowly than usual. The film focused still more attention on Hawking's remarkable achievements.

"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years", Hawking told The Guardian in 2011.

"At the time, I thought my life was over and that I would never realise the potential I felt I had".

He studied at Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy before coming to the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in 1979 as a Lucasian Professor, a title once held by Isaac Newton, until 2009. "My goal is simple", he once said.

Hawking shot to worldwide fame after the 1988 publication of A Brief History of Time, one of the most complex books ever to achieve mass appeal, which stayed on the Sunday Times best-sellers list for no fewer than 237 weeks. "I think they understood most of it".

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. "I have three children, and three grandchildren so far".

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. The couple split after 25 years and he married his former nurse, Elaine Mason, but the union broke down amid allegations, denied by him, of abuse.

In November a year ago, Professor Hawking was more conservative in his estimates.

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