London: World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, his family said.
The Briton was known for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time. At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease, according to BBC.
Hawking, whose 1988 book "A Brief History of Time" became an unlikely worldwide bestseller and cemented his superstar status, dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe. His genius and wit won over fans from far beyond the rarified world of astrophysics.
"We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today," professor Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim said in a statement carried by Britain's Press Association news agency. "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years."
Professor Hawkin's work focused on bringing together relativity -- the nature of space and time -- and quantum theory -- how the smallest particles in the Universe behave -- to explain the creation of the Universe and how it is governed.
In 1974, he became one of the youngest fellows of Britain's most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, at the age of 32. In 1979 he was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, where he had moved from Oxford University to study theoretical astronomy and cosmology. Newton was a previous holder of that prestigious post, according to AFP.
Inside the shell of his increasingly useless body was a razor-sharp mind, fascinated by the nature of the Universe, how it was formed and how it might end. "My goal is simple," he once said. "It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."
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