Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died. He was 76.
The scientific community had an immediate outpouring of grief and admiration for the famed thinker, whose work changed the way the world thinks about the basic laws that govern the universe.
Among those voices was that of astrophysicist and media personality Neil deGrasse Tyson, who tweeted:
“His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018.”
Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge Wednesday morning, his family said in a statement to The Daily Telegraph.
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” his children 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. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.'”
Hawking attended the University of Cambridge, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1965. He would go on to have a distinguished career as a professor at that same vaunted institution.
“Professor Hawking was a unique individual who will be remembered with warmth and affection not only in Cambridge but all over the world,” Cambridge’s vice chancellor said in a statement. “His exceptional contributions to scientific knowledge and the popularization of science and mathematics have left an indelible legacy. His character was an inspiration to millions. He will be much missed.”
In 1962, Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, a rare motor neuron disorder, after his 21st birthday. He was given just months or years to live.
Instead, he lived more than a half century longer, stunning physicians.
Despite being wheelchair-bound and dependent on a computerized voice system for communication, Hawking continued to combine family life with his research into theoretical physics.
He also had three children with his first wife, Jane Wilde, and three grandchildren, according to his website’s official bio.