Professor Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

Image credit: Robert Sullivan

Professor Stephen Hawking, the renowned physicist, has died at his home in Cambridge earlier this morning.  The University Library flag is flying at half mast in his honor.

Diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease at 22, Hawking lived beyond his doctors’ initial predicted lifespan of two years to become a world-known scientist known for his work with black holes and relativity. His research into black holes led to the discovery that they leak energy and fade, a phenomenon Hawking dubbed radiation.

He also worked on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity alongside mathematician Sir Roger Penrose, and demonstrated that Einstein’s theory implies that space and time began with the Big Bang and will end in black holes.

Hawking’s life story was the subject of Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything. Eddie Redmayne, who played the scientist, commented: “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”

In a statement his children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim, expressed their great sadness at the loss of their father: “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you loved.’ We will miss him forever.”

Tributes have been pouring in to commemorate the physicist. Prime Minister Theresa May called Professor Hawking “a brilliant and extraordinary mind”, whilst Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, said he had a “colossal mind and a wonderful spirit.”  Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has also paid tribute, calling Hawking "an inspirational scientist, with a powerful social conscience" and offering condolences to his family.

Speaking of his early diagnosis with motor neurone disease in his 2013 memoir, Stephen Hawking wrote: “I felt it was very unfair. At the time, I thought my life was over and that I would never realise the potential I felt I had. But now, 50 years later, I can be quietly satisfied with my life.”

After studying at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Hawking wrote several popular science books, most famously A Brief History of Time, which has sold more than 10 million copies. In 1979 he was made Luciasian Professor of Mathematics, a post once held by Isaac Newton, before becoming a fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. The College has announced that it will open a book of condolence and the college flag will fly at half-mast.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Stories

In this section

Across the site

Best of the Rest