Stephen Hawking died Wednesday after complications due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. He was 76.
The world-renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist was best known for his work on black holes. Hawking theorized that, contrary to the prevailing scientific belief that black holes were inescapable for all forms of matter and energy, they actually emitted a form of radiation ― now known as Hawking radiation. He also played a key role in the mathematical effort to unify Einstein’s general theory of relativity with the emergent field of quantum physics.
Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a debilitating motor neuron disease when he was 21. He went on to become one of the world's most prominent scientists.
He was the author of several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.It was a massive hit: The book was on The New York Times’ best-seller list for three years and The Sunday Times’ U.K. best-seller list for nearly five. Its publication propelled Hawking to international fame that’s endured to this day. He published five additional general-audience books on science, plus one memoir and four children’s books. He also guest-starred on both “The Simpsons” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Hawking was born on Jan. 8, 1942 ― the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death ― in Oxford, England, to Frank. He and his three younger siblings grew up mostly in the town of St. Albans, just north of London, in what has been described as a highly intellectually-engaged home.
His children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said: "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."
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