Stephen Hawking, the brilliant British theoretical physicist who overcame a debilitating disease to publish wildly popular books probing the mysteries of the universe, has died, according to a family spokesman. He was 76.
Considered by many to be the world's greatest living scientist, Hawking was also a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and author of numerous books including the landmark "A Brief History of Time," which has sold more than 10 million copies.
With fellow physicist Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes. Hawking also discovered that black holes were not completely black but emit radiation and would likely eventually evaporate and disappear.
"A star just went out in the cosmos," Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, wrote on Twitter. "We have lost an amazing human being.
At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease.
“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 for ever.”
For fellow scientists and loved ones, it was Hawking’s intuition and wicked sense of humor that marked him out as much as the fierce intellect that, coupled with his illness, came to symbolize the unbounded possibilities of the human mind.
“Stephen was far from being the archetypal unworldy or nerdish scientist. His personality remained amazingly unwarped by his frustrations,” said Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, who praised Hawking’s half century of work as an “inspiring crescendo of achievement.” He added: “Few, if any, of Einstein’s successors have done more to deepen our insights into gravity, space and time.”
Hawking leaves behind three children and three grandchildren. "We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today," Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement. "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 humor inspired people across the world."
Source: twitter, BBC...