Stephen Hawking, one of the most influential scientists in the modern era, has died at age 76.
A representative for his family released a statement saying he died at his home in Cambridge, England, on Wednesday.
“It is with great sadness we announce the death of Professor Stephen Hawking,” the statement said. “Professor Hawking died peacefully at his home in the early hours of this morning.
“His family have kindly requested that they be given the time and privacy to mourn his passing, but they would like to thank everyone who has been by Professor Hawking’s side — and supported him — throughout his life.”
Hawking is survived by his three children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim. The three also released a statement:
“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. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour 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.’ We will miss him forever.”
Fellow scientists offered their condolences on social media, including the renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
“His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake,” Tyson said on Twitter. “But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure.”
“Stephen Hawking was the rare famous scientist who deserved every bit of his fame,” Sean Carroll, a physicist at Caltech, tweeted. “A brilliant physicist and an inspirational person. And quite a character.”
“A star just went out in the cosmos,” the theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss said on Twitter. “We have lost an amazing human being. Stephen Hawking fought and tamed the cosmos bravely for 76 years and taught us all something important about what it truly means to celebrate about being human.”
Hawking, a theoretical physicist, made several discoveries that transformed the way scientists viewed black holes and the universe.
Though he had Lou Gehrig’s disease, the neurodegenerative malady also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, that impaired his motor functions, he went on to become a mathematics professor and eventually the director of research at the University of Cambridge’s Center for Theoretical Cosmology.
“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many,” Hawking, who long used a wheelchair, reportedly wrote on his website. “I have been lucky that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope.”
Hawking was also known to bridge the gap on complicated subjects by infusing humor and wit during his lectures. His character and personality produced several infamous anecdotes and references in pop culture, including appearances on various TV shows.
“I recall when we has giving lectures and it was a huge effort for him to speak (before the tracheotomy and the computer voice) he still made the effort to throw jokes in,” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said on Twitter.
“That says something.”