Physicist Stephen Hawking dies at 76

Professor Stephen Hawking at Cambridge in 2013

Professor Stephen Hawking at Cambridge in 2013

Professor Stephen Hawking was an inspiration to me to become not just a scientist but a communicator of that science.

"We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today", Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement.

"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 for ever". Still, Hawking progressively lost use of most of his muscles, and for the last three decades of his life was communicating nearly exclusively through a voice synthesizer.

He was a Lucasian Professor at the university from 1979 to 2009, a position previously held by Isaac Newton in 1663.

While he was unable to attend the ceremony, Professor Hawking posted a touching message on Facebook to say: "Well done Eddie, I'm very proud of you". "It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all".

Hawking, it has to be said, denied these allegations - albeit fairly unconvincingly. "I don't know an operational way to give the question or the answer, if there is one, a meaning. But it bothers me".

In later years he made several TV and film cameos as himself, notably in Little Britain and The Big Bang Theory.

Hawking spent most of his adult like in a motorized scooter.

He once wrote that he had motor neurone disease for practically all his adult life but said that it had not stopped him having an attractive family and being successful in his work. Hawking wrote the 134-page document as a 24-year-old postgraduate student while studying at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

"My goal is simple", he once said. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet.

One of his most famous accomplishments came in his research on black holes, showing that small amounts of radiation could escape their gravitational pull.

Considered by many to be the world's greatest living scientist, Hawking was also a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and author of numerous books including the landmark "A Brief History of Time", which has sold more than 10 million copies. "It really was quite revolutionary".

Asked about his long life, Hawking said in 2011 he was "lucky" to be a scientist.

As an astrophysicist who has spent a significant fraction of my career working on the observational aspects of black holes using radio telescopes, and hoping to continue that with the billion dollar Square Kilometre Array over the next decade, Stephen Hawking's work to understand the physics of black holes is close to my heart.

It's also believed that the scientist was a rash driver.

Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford on 8 January 1942. In 1959, he entered Oxford University and then went on to graduate work at Cambridge. The disease usually kills within three to five years.

They added: "His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring". But as it became apparent that he was not going to die soon, his spirits recovered and he bore down on his work.