World-renowned Cambridge University physicist Stephen Hawking died early Wednesday at his home in England at aged 76, Hawking’s spokesperson announced on behalf of Cambridge University.
Famed for his work with black holes and relativity, Hawking wrote several popular science books that including international bestseller ‘A Brief History of Time’.
Hawking became a beloved figure not just his science work, but for his battle with a rare form of neuron motor disease that left him in a wheelchair and largely unable to speak after being diagnosed at 22 years of age.
His three children released a statement saying, “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.”
While at Cambridge, Hawking he was diagnosed with the disease which left him almost completely paralysed and given no more than two years to live. With his first wife, Jane, the couple had three children. His health, however, was always in question. At one point, Hawking suffered from a bout of pneumonia that required a tracheotomy and the loss of his ability to speak. He spent years using a voice synthesizer.
Hawking rose to fame in the 1970s after discovering that radiation escapes from black holes and that the holes aren’t completely black. His theory, however, made him a scientific superstar but did not garner a Nobel Prize.
“They’re named black holes because they are related to human fears of being destroyed or gobbled up. I don’t have fears of being thrown into one them. I understand them. I feel, in a sense, that I am their master,” Hawking once said about black holes.
Later, his set of laws that he dubbed “a theory of everything” were designed to provide answers to questions about how the universe began and how it will end. Hawking claimed the answers to these questions would bring a person close to the mindset of God.”
His illness, however, made him dependent on others. After his first marriage ended, he later married one of his nurses in 1995, but the couple divorced in 2006.
Hawking never considered ending his life or felt that others should feel sorry for him. “The victim should have the right to end his life if he wants. But I think it would be a great mistake. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope,” he said on euthanasia. Hawking was fond of saying that his illness forced him to look on life in a positive light and that forced him to keep pushing himself.
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”