Pioneering theoretical physicist and science popularizer Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76. Details have not been released yet, but the BBC reports that his children Lucy, Robert and Tim have released a statement saying, "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."
Born in Oxford on January 8, 1942, Stephen Hawking studied at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Despite the diagnosis in 1963 of a rare early-onset, slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that should have claimed his life in a matter of months, Hawking survived and continued to work, write, and lecture for decades, even after he suffered total paralysis and required a speech synthesizer to communicate.
Hawkings went on to become one of the most acclaimed scientists of his generation with a level of fame rivaled only by Albert Einstein. His early work on the mechanics of black holes led him into the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics, and relativity. He was especially notable for his work on Hawking radiation, the Penrose–Hawking theorems, the Bekenstein–Hawking formula, and Hawking energy.
Aside from his rather esoteric work in physics, Hawking was also an author, most famously of A Brief History of Time (1988), which was described as, "the least read best seller in history." He was also an advocate for the disabled, an outspoken proponent of materialism, and even went into acting with appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, among others.
His PhD thesis was recently released to the public as part of an effort to make scientific more accessible. Fellow physicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson had the following to say on Twitter on Hawking's death.
"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake," he said. "But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018."
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