Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s greatest minds and author of A Brief History of Time, died on Wednesday aged 76, his family confirmed in a statement.
His children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, reported that he died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday.
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father has passed away today,” said the children of Hawking.
“[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 around the world.
“He once said that it would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.”
Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21 with doctors only expecting him to live for another two years; instead his form of the disease progressed more slowly than usual and he subsequently survived for more than half a century.
In an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson for the TV show Star Talk on the National Geographic Channel, Hawking stressed that before the ‘Big Bang’, nothing had happened.
He was born on January 8, 1942 in Oxford and became one of the most influential figures in the world of science, not only as a theoretician and astrophysicist, but also as a scientific populariser.