Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s finest scientific minds, has died at the age of 76, according to his family.
He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of this morning.
In a statement, 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.
“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.”
The physicist and cosmologist was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease when he was a 22-year-old student at Cambridge University.
Most people die within a few years of the diagnosis.
Prof Hawking first gained attention with his 1988 book ‘A Brief History of Time’, a simplified overview of the universe. It has sold millions of copies across the world.
His subsequent theories revolutionised modern understanding of concepts like relativity, black holes and the Big Bang theory of how the universe began.
For 30 years, he held a mathematics post at Cambridge University previously held by Sir Isaac Newton.
Prof Hawking retired from that position in 2009 and became director of research at the university’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.
He achieved all that despite being almost entirely paralysed and in a wheelchair since 1970.