Physicist Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

Hawking's insights shaped modern cosmology

PEOPLE-HAWKING/ [File] British scientist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking | Reuters

World famous physicist Stephen Hawking has died aged 76 at his home in Cambridge on Wednesday, his family stated. 

"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. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. We will miss him forever," stated his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim in a statement, according to UK-based Sky News.

Hawking was a pioneer in modern cosmology. His major contributions include studies on gravitational singularity theorems and black holes. Hawking was the first to propose a theory of cosmology using the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. 

Born on January 8, 1942, in England's Oxford, Hawking went to the University College, Oxford in 1952 to pursue physics. After graduation, he joined the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge to do research in cosmology. He, along with Roger Penrose, stated that "space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes". He also discovered that black holes are not completely black, but rather should emit 'Hawking' radiation and eventually evaporate and disappear. 

From the age of 21, the scientist was suffering from ALS, a motor neurone disease, that limited his abilities to move around. 

He has published many books, including international best seller A Brief History of Time. His other books include Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, The Universe in a Nutshell, The Grand Design and My Brief History.

He was awarded the prestigious Fundamental Physics prize in 2013. His other recognitions include CBE (1982), Companion of Honour (1989), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009), Copley Medal (2006) and the Wolf Foundation prize (1988).