AceShowbiz - The world has lost one of its greatest thinkers. British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking passed away on Tuesday, March 13. He was 76. His family has confirmed the sad news, but the cause of death is unspecified.
His children Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a 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."
Hawking was a child prodigy, entering Oxford University at the age of 17. He's best known for his theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation, and a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.
He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in 1963 at the age of 21. At the time, his doctors gave him a life expectancy of two years. He stunned doctors by living with the normally fatal illness for more than 50 years.
The disease, however, gradually paralysed Hawking over decades and he was only able to communicate using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device. A severe attack of pneumonia in 1985 left him breathing through a tube.
He discussed the mysteries of space, time and black holes in "A Brief History of Time", which became an international best seller after it was released in 1988. For his great works, he became one of science's biggest celebrities since Albert Einstein.
His life was captured in 2014's movie "The Theory of Everything", which was based on his former wife Jane Wilde Hawking's memoir "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen". Eddie Redmayne starred as the famed physicist and Felicity Jones played his wife. The movie was nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, and won a best actor award for Redmayne's acting.
Hawking made cameo appearances on "The Simpsons" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation".