Professor Stephen Hawking, the renowned British physicist and author of A Brief History of Time, has died at the age of 76, the Telegraph reported.
He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of this morning.
In a statement to the Press Association, 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.”
Hawking’s most famous scientific insight concerned the arcane physics of black holes. He discovered the phenomenon which has become known as Hawking radiation, where black holes leak energy and fade to nothing.
His life was dominated, positively as well as negatively, by a crippling and incurable form of motor neurone disease, which left him increasingly helpless.
When the disease was diagnosed in 1963, doctors gave him 14 months to live.
He was confined to a wheelchair by the time he was 30, and in 1986, aged 44, his voice was removed to save his life after an attack of pneumonia.
From then on, he spoke through a computer synthesizer on the arm of his wheelchair.
“I am quite often asked: how do you feel about having ALS?” he once wrote. “The answer is, not a lot.
“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many.”
Prof Hawking was Britain’s most famous modern-day scientist, a genius with a razor-sharp wit who dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe.
“My goal is simple,” he once said. “It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”