Professor Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76

Professor Stephen Hawking at Cambridge in 2013

Stephen Hawking at the Centre of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge

In a simple, elegant style it covered the nature of time, gravity, black holes, the Big Bang and the physicist's holy grail - "the theory of everything" an all-encompassing, coherent theoretical framework of physics that fully explains and links together all physical aspects of the universe.

But the power of his intellect contrasted cruelly with the weakness of his body, ravaged by the wasting motor neurone disease he contracted at the age of 21.

Signs of illness appeared in his first year of graduate school, and he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease after the New York Yankee star who died of it. A severe attack of pneumonia in 1985 left him breathing through a tube, forcing him to communicate through an electronic voice synthesizer that gave him his distinctive robotic monotone.

"Despite my disability, I have managed to do most things I want", Hawking said. "I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth", he said past year. He and his first wife, Jane Wilde, Wednesday when he was still a grad student and remained together for 30 years before divorcing in 1995. Take a look at all the major discoveries and achievements made by Hawking over the years.

Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England.

In 1977, Prince Charles got his feet crushed beneath his wheels during the royal's induction into the Royal Society, she wrote: "The prince was intrigued by Hawking's wheelchair, and Hawking, twirling it around to demonstrate its capabilities, carelessly ran over Prince Charles's toes".

"It will be hard enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next 100 years, let alone next thousand, or million".

"In the long run the human race should not have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet", Hawking said in 2008.

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In 1979, he was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, where he had moved from Oxford University to study theoretical astronomy and cosmology.

His popularity brought him guest appearances in TV shows such as The Simpsons and the Big Bang Theory, but he was above all a true scientific genius. His life was the subject of an award-winning movie, "The Theory of Everything".

Fellow scientists hailed Hawking for his work and influence in the field.

American astrophysisist Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote: "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.

"We have lost an fantastic human being".

Hawking first married Jane Wilde in 1965 and had three children.

"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", they said.

Speaking to Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain he said his children had brought him great joy before adding: "And I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space".

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