Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking, whose mental genius and physical disability made him a household name and inspiration across the globe, has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday
According to a statement issued by his family, he passed away peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Equally well known for living with a motor-neuron disease that typically reduces a patient's life expectancy to two to five years from the onset of symptoms, as he was for his contributions to the field of physics, he was one of the youngest inductees ever of the Royal Society, and held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics, a prestigious professorship that was once held by luminaries such as Isaac Newton and Charles Babbage.
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” professor Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim said in a statement carried by Britain’s Press Association news agency.
“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”
His death has impacted not only his loved ones, but students in Hong Kong, too.
“His death is surely a huge lost in the scientific community,” said Venus Kwong, 16, of Creative Secondary School.
Nikki Wong, 15, who also attends the same school said that Hawking’s “contributions to the science world will never be forgotten; he will always be carved in our hearts as one of the best scientist of the 20th century.”
“Considering his disability and his outstanding discoveries, I believe that (after his death today) his life should not be mourned but celebrated,” Bianca Lee, 15, a student at Phillips Exeter Academy added.
"I still can't believe it. It is genuinely the most somber day for the physics community," Raja Abdul Hannan, a 19-year-old student at HKU Space told Young Post over Facebook. "Rest in peace, professor Hawking. The loss won't be compensated."
Hawking defied predictions he would only live for a few years after developing a form of motor neurone disease that required him to use a wheelchair.
“His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world,” the family said.
“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.”