Thursday 15 November 2018

Professor Stephen Hawking dies aged 76: 'An extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on'

Professor Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Renowned British physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the world's finest scientific minds, has died at the age of 76, a family spokesman said.

He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday 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."

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was one of the first to pay tribute to Professor Stephen Hawking following his death aged 76.

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 file photo Pope Francis greets physicist Stephen Hawking during an audience with participants at a plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, at the Vatican. (L'Osservatore Romano/pool photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 file photo Pope Francis greets physicist Stephen Hawking during an audience with participants at a plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, at the Vatican. (L'Osservatore Romano/pool photo via AP, File)
File photo dated 9/12/2014 of Professor Stephen Hawking (front), who has died aged 76, with (from left) Felicity Jones, Jane Hawking and Eddie Redmayne, attending the UK Premiere of The Theory of Everything at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. Ian West/PA Wire
File photo dated 25/02/12 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, posing beside a lamp titled 'black hole light' by inventor Mark Champkins, presented to him during his visit to the Science Museum in London. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
File photo dated 09/09/1992 Professor Stephen Hawking, who had died aged 76, and Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin, with their portraits unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in London. /PA Wire
File photo dated 08/02/2015 of Eddie Redmayne and Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, arriving at the After-party dinner for the EE British Academy Film Awards at Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire
File photo dated 19/09/08 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, during the unveiling of The Corpus Clock, a new installation at Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University. Chris Radburn/PA Wire
File photo dated 29/04/10 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, watching the first preview of his new show for the Discovery Channel, Stephen Hawking's Universe. David Parry/PA Wire
U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to scientist Stephen Hawking during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, August 12, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File photo
CEO of ZERO-G Peter Diamandis (L) and British physicist Stephen Hawking stand on lift truck after his flight at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 26, 2007. REUTERS/Charles W Luzier/File photo
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his daughter Lucy arrive at the British Academy of Film and Arts (BAFTA) awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File photo
Former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) meets theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking at Mandela's Foundation office in Johannesburg May 15, 2008. Pool/via REUTERS/File photo
Microsoft President Bill Gates (L), accompanied by University Vice-Chancellor Professor Alec Broers, meets Professor Stephen Hawking on a visit to Cambridge University October 7, 1997. REUTERS/Stringer/File photo
Jane Wilde Hawking kisses her ex-husband Stephen Hawking as she arrives at the UK premiere of the film "The Theory of Everything" which is based around Stephen Hawking's life, at a cinema in central London December 9, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Winning/File
British physicist Stephen Hawking delivers a lecture on "The Origin of the Universe" at the Heysel conference hall in Brussels May 20, 2007. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File photo
Britain's Queen Elizabeth (L) meets Stephen Hawking during a reception for Leonard Cheshire Disability charity at St James's Palace in London May 29, 2014. Jonathan Brady/Pool via REUTERS/File photo

Sharing a photo of himself and Prof Hawking on Twitter, he said: "His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018."

Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said Prof Hawking was "an inspiration to us all, whatever our station in life, to reach for the stars".

He tweeted: "RIP Sir, You epitomised true courage over adversity as you explained the wonders of the universe to the world. Your achievements symbolise the power of the human mind.

"An inspiration to us all, whatever our station in life, to reach for the stars-from where you now shine down on us."

Actor Macaulay Culkin described Prof Hawking as a "genius", adding that the physicist was also his favourite Simpsons character. He tweeted: "I just heard about Stephen Hawking's passing. He was both a genius and my favorite Simpsons character. We'll miss you, buddy."

Greenpeace USA thanked Prof Hawking for helping people understand their place in the universe and for "leaving us in awe and wonder".

Musicians also paid tribute, with KT Tunstall tweeting: "Wow. What a life. What an extraordinary Human Being. Enjoy the cosmos Stephen Hawking, the biggest and most mysterious adventure that we all get to go on one day... RIP #genius."

Sean Carroll, a physics professor at US university Caltech, said: "Stephen Hawking was the rare famous scientist who deserved every bit of his fame. A brilliant physicist and an inspirational person. And quite a character."

Jonathan Ross lamented that humankind was significantly down on intelligence points following Prof Hawking's death. "RIP Stephen Hawking. The world just dropped a lot of IQ points. And, he was a fun person. Very sad news," the presenter tweeted.

The Twitter page for US TV show The Big Bang Theory tweeted a picture of the cast with Prof Hawking, who starred as himself in several episodes of the sitcom.

The tweet said: "In loving memory of Stephen Hawking. It was an honor to have him on The #BigBangTheory. Thank you for inspiring us and the world."

Pop superstar Katy Perry said "there's a big black hole in my heart" following Prof Hawking's death.

Actor Kumail Nanjiani, who was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay he co-wrote with his wife Emily V Gordon about her chronic illness, also paid tribute.

He said he was "very sad" to learn of his passing and urged fans to read A Brief History Of Time.

"It'll make the world feel more amazing and beautiful and strange. It'll also make you feel smart and stupid all at once," he added. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Prof Hawking had "made the world a better place" and that his death was "anguishing". "Professor Stephen Hawking was an outstanding scientist and academic. His grit and tenacity inspired people all over the world," a tweet on his page said.

"His demise is anguishing. Professor Hawking's pioneering work made our world a better place. May his soul rest in peace."

Nasa remembered Prof Hawking as a "renowned physicist and ambassador of science".

"His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014," the organisation tweeted.

Press Association

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