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Renowned Physicist Stephen Hawking Dies at 76

Stephen Hawking, known for his theories on black holes and relativity, peacefully passed away in his home in Cambridge early Wednesday morning.

Hawking was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease when he was twenty-two, and told he only had years to live. According to The Guardian, Hawking “long fought the use of a wheelchair.” But when he finally relented, he “became notorious for his wild driving along the streets of Cambridge.” His voice was destroyed from an infection in 1985, as told by his ex-wife Jane in her memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen.

According to the BBC, it was through Hawking’s work with mathematician Sir Roger Penrose that he was able to demonstrate that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. The New York Times reports Hawking discovered black holes were not black at all, but instead that they “would eventually fizzle, leaking radiation and particles, and finally explode and disappear over the eons.” This discovery was through the application of quantum theory, which relates to the laws of black holes.

The 2014 film The Theory of Everything portrayed Hawking’s rise to fame and this relationship with his first wife, Jane. Eddie Redmayne, who played Hawking in the movie, paid tribute in a statement, saying, “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”

Hawking’s most famous book (and most important to his fame) A Brief History of Time, published 1988, is now number two on Amazon’s Best Sellers  book list.

Hawking’s children Lucy, Robert, and Tim said in a statement that they 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.

“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.”

The New York Times reports past student and now professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, Michio Kaku, said in an interview “Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world.”

The scientific community is mourning the loss of a brilliant mind, including tweets from NASA,  Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Cambridge University.

Stephen Hawking, 1942 – 2018, changed the science community during his lifetime and his research will continue to do so for many years to come.

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