Famed British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawkins is dead, according to his family. He was 76. His exact cause of death has not yet been announced.
Renowned for his groundbreaking research into black holes and relativity, Hawking first found fame as an author of several revolutionary books that attempted to explain the basic principals of physics in a way that could be easily grasped by laymen. These included A Brief History of Time, The Nature of Space and Time and The Universe In A Nutshell. He later became a pop-culture icon, making cameo appearances playing himself on animated series such as The Simpsons and Futurama as well as live-action series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory. He also appeared in a number of television specials about various aspects of science as an expert speaker.
The news of Hawking’s death was first reported by The BBC. He is survived by three children – Lucy, Robert and Tim – who released a brief statement regarding their father’s passing.
“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.”
Apart from his contributions to theoretical physics, Hawking is best known for his work as an activist for the physically disabled. Diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21 in 1963, Hawking was given two years to live, at most. Hawking defied that diagnosis and went on to become the most distinguished scientist of the later 20th Century, earning numerous awards and honors. A 2014 movie based on Hawking’s extraordinary life – The Theory Of Everything – went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. Eddie Redmayne received the Best Actor Oscar that year for his portrayal of Hawking.
Despite the tragedies of his life, Hawking was known for never losing hope no matter how ill his health. His children praised both “his courage and persistence” as well as “brilliance and his humor” as he set an inspiring example for people around the world. This humor was evident in one of Hawking’s final public “performances,” as the professor – a life-long fan of British comedy troupe Monty Python – recorded his own rendition of their famous Galaxy Song from the movie The Meaning of Life and ran over fellow physics professor Brian Cox with his wheelchair as part of a pre-recorded segment for the Monty Python: Meaning of Live special.
Rest In Peace Stephen Hawking: January 8, 1942 – March 13, 2018.