Professor Stephen Hawking has died, aged 76 – seven times he was an inspirational legend

The eminent physicist and all-round legend Professor Stephen Hawking has died peacefully at home, aged 76.  

However, although the physicist has passed, he’s still finding space to impress us posthumously. Following the release of Google‘s year in search, the brilliant mind came fourth on their lost list. Avicii and Stan Lee were also among the most searched. 

 The author of A Brief History of Time was only given two to three years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease at 22 yet overcame the odds to become one of the greatest minds the UK, and the world, has ever seen. 

Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford on 8 January 1942 and, after gaining a first-class degree in physics from Oxford, studied cosmology at Cambridge. He had three children with his wife Jane – Lucy, Robert and Tim – who issued a statement about his death on Wednesday morning: “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. 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.”

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A study in 2015 ranked Stephen Hawking as one of the greatest Britons of all time, coming in at 4th behind Florence Nightingale, Sir Winston Churchill and The Queen. 

Best known for his pioneering theories and research into black holes, Stephen Hawking published his best-selling book A Brief History of Time, designed to help non-scientists understand physics, the Big Bang, time and the universe. The book has sold more than ten million copies. 

Below, we’ve remembered the times when Stephen Hawking reminded us just how fantastic he was. 

On life and depression

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious… And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” 

On death

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

On making mistakes

“So next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”

READ NEXT: Freeze, crunch, bounce or rip: how will the universe end?

On climate change

“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”

On celebrity

“The downside of my celebrity is that I can’t go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.”

On giving advice to his children

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. If you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.” 

On disability

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.”

On A Brief History of Time

“I never expected A Brief History of Time to do as well as it did. I thought I might make a modest amount to help support my children and the rising costs of my care.” 

What is Motor Neurone Disease?

Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a rare form of motor nuerone disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), in his early 20s. The disease is caused by a problem with cells in the brain and the nerves. It typically affects people in their 60s and 70s and gradually reduces mobility as the cells stop working, or slow down. In particular, messages from motor neurons in the brain that are sent to the spine and muscles break down or fail. 

Symptoms can include weakness in your legs and hands, slurred speech, muscle cramps, weight loss and difficulty stopping yourself crying or laughing in inappropriate situations, according to the NHS. 

Many celebrities and fellow scientists have tweeted their memories and condolences to honour Stephen Hawking. Here is a selection of the most poignant:

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