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Famed theoretical physicist dies at 76

14 March 2018

He died peacefully at his home in the British university city of Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Hawking suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, which is usually fatal within a few years. But it's not empty. "Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure", fellow scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted.

Theoretical Physicist and professor Matthew Buckley said Hawking's genius extended far beyond his fame. "Stephen excelled at both". "It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all". "Stephen was a joyful and lighthearted person, not to be burdened by excessively respectful and convoluted interactions", he says.

Hawking was born on Januart 8, 1942 in Oxford, England. He often paid tribute to his wife, who had looked after him for more than 20 years, and friends and relatives were shocked when he left her for one of his nurses, whom he married in 1995. "I fell over and had great difficulty getting up", he told the audience.

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In the book he related how he was first diagnosed: "I felt it was very unfair - why should this happen to me", he wrote.

Then, grinning widely, he added, "I seem to manage to do anything that I really want".

"A star just went out in the cosmos", tweeted Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He was able to move only a few fingers on one hand and was completely dependent on others or on technology for virtually everything - bathing, dressing, eating, even speech.

"Hawking shot to worldwide fame after the 1988 publication of "“A Brief History of Time", one of the most complex books ever to achieve mass appeal, which stayed on the Sunday Times best-sellers list for no fewer than 237 weeks.

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It sold more than 10 million copies, although its author was aware that it was dubbed "the most popular book never read". He relished making cameo apparitions on television shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory.

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. In the early 1970s, he began to investigate what quantum physics could reveal about the event horizon, a black hole's surface of no return.

Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982 and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1985.

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Famed theoretical physicist dies at 76