Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist who authored A Brief History of Time, died on Wednesday morning after a decades-long battle with ALS. He was 76.
Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, announced their father’s passing in the following statement:
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 humor 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.
Hawking was first diagnosed with ALS in 1963, at the age of 21. He was only expected to live for another couple of years, but was ultimately discovered to have a rare form of the disease that progressed at a much slower rate. He was able to walk on his own for much of the 1960s with the help of crutches, but eventually required a mobilized wheelchair. When he lost the use of his voice, he began using a unique method of synthesized computer vocalizations that allowed him to remain vocal for the rest of his life.
A Brief History of Time was released in 1988, and went on to sell 10 million copies, making Hawking a public figure. His life was depicted in the 2014 biopic The Theory of Everything; Eddie Redmayne went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Redmayne released the following statement to our sister site Deadline:
We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.
Hawking guest-starred as himself on numerous TV shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Simpsons:
He later recurred on The Big Bang Theory, first appearing in the Season 5 episode “The Hawking Excitation.” Watch his first scene opposite Jim Parsons below:
Hawking would return to Big Bang for six more episodes, including the most recent season premiere last September. Cast members — as well as co-creator Bill Prady — shared the following tributes on social media:
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It was truly such an honor getting to work with the incredible Stephen Hawking.. He made us laugh and we made him laugh. His life and career workings have been many a subject matter on @thebigbangtheory__ and we are all better for it. You will be missed but the world is grateful for the knowledge and courage you leave in your path. Thank you for being an inspiration to everyone 🙏🏼 #stephenhawking ♥️
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As we near Pi day (3.14) I join the global community in mourning the loss of the greatest physicist of our era. #StephenHawking is free from the physical constraints of this earthly condition we all exist in and he is soaring above us now marveling at it all. Thank you Dr. Hawking for enlightening us and blessing us with your wisdom and courage.