British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, his family has announced in a brief press statement. Hawking passed away peacefully in his home in Cambridge, England, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
"His family have kindly requested that they be given the time and privacy to mourn his passing, but they would like to thank everyone who has been by Professor Hawking's side—and supported him—throughout his life," the statement reads.
“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. 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.”
Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963, and given two years to live by his doctors. Instead, he survived for more than half a century, authoring popular books like A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell. For much of his life he was a professor at Cambridge University, and within the scientific community he is best known for his theories about black hole mechanics, gravitational collapse, and relativity. His brilliance has been compared to that of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.
He is survived by three children and two ex-wives.