Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Hawking death: Queen's professor hails greatest living scientist of his time

Stephen Hawking celebrates 50th year as Cambridge fellow
Stephen Hawking celebrates 50th year as Cambridge fellow
QUB Professor Stephen Smartt.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

A professor at Queen's University Belfast paid tribute to Professor Stephen Hawking on his death hailing him the greatest living scientist of his time.

Professor Hawking died on Wednesday in his Cambridge home at the age of 76.

At the age of 22 doctors gave him just two years to live after he was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. Despite this he went on to have three children and became synonymous the world over not just in the fields of scientist but also popular culture.

His was confined to a wheelchair for much of his life and had to use a computer to communicate.

"He was remarkable and so much an inspiration to us all that he was at the forefront of science for so long," said Queen's astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt.

Hawking worked to unify general relativity with quantum mechanics - essentially the biggest science with the absolute smallest - and became world famous for his ground-breaking work.

"Perhaps because he used the computer to speak he did not have the same access to vocabulary.. but if anything that made his work more accessible and he was really able to capture the imagination," continued professor Smartt.

Professor_stephen_smart.png
QUB Professor Stephen Smartt.

The Belfast scientist worked in Cambridge for a number of years and would have met with Professor Hawking who he said always had the time to work with students.

He said the professor's aura was evident when he entered a room. The 49-year-old said that Hawking's bestselling book, A Brief History of Time, was part of the reason he chose to study astrophysics.

"He was very likeable. While he may have been confined to a wheelchair he had a fully-functioning mind that went far beyond the boundaries of normal human thought.

"Professor Hawking worked to get the big answers to the questions we all want to know like 'where did we come from?' and 'where are we going?' and if we will continue to survive. It was thought-provoking and he was able to show he was not just a master physicist and mathematician but someone who had a genuine interest in the history and future of humanity.

"His genius shone through. And with appearances on Star Trek and The Simpsons he brought his studies to the masses like no other. Certainly he was the greatest living scientist of his time."

News of Professor Hawking's death exploded like a supernova in the world of cosmology – where, despite his disability, he had stood like a colossus.

Professor Stephen Hawking at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (Dan White/Gonville and Caius/PA)
Professor Stephen Hawking at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (Dan White/Gonville and Caius/PA)
In this file photo taken on April 27, 2017 shows participants listening to a recorded speech by British physicist Stephen Hawking on artificial intelligence as his image is seen on a screen at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing. British scientist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family announced March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Greg BakerGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016, British scientist Stephen Hawking attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 28, 2016 Pope Francis (L) meets with English theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking at the Vatican on November 28, 2016. British scientist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman announced March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016, British scientist Stephen Hawking attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 19, 2013, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking poses for a picture ahead of a gala screening of the documentary 'Hawking', a film about the scientist's life, at the opening night of the Cambridge Film Festival in Cambridge, eastern England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW COWIEANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016 (FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016, British scientist Stephen Hawking attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016 (FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016, British scientist Stephen Hawking attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016 (FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016, British scientist Stephen Hawking attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016 (FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016, British scientist Stephen Hawking attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES): In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016 (FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016, British scientist Stephen Hawking attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / STRSTR/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016 (FILES) In this file photo taken on October 19, 2016, British scientist Stephen Hawking attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 13, 2005, British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking presents his new book "A brief history of Time" in Oviedo, northern Spain. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Miguel RIOPAMIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 29, 2012 British scientist Stephen Hawking appears during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in east London. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said March 14, 2018, after a glittering life in science dedicated to unlocking the secrets of the Universe. / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 05, 2006 British astrophysician Stephen Hawking gives a press conference to present his latest book, "God Created the Integers: The mathematical breakthroughs that changed History" in Paris. AFP PHOTO JOEL SAGET Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Joël SAGETJOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 21, 2008, British physicist Stephen Hawking (L) and his daughter Lucy Hawking give a lecture entitled 'Why We Should Go Into Space' during the 50 Years of NASA lecture series at George Washington University in Washington, DC. 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 on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 14: Scientist Stephen Hawking of "Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking" speaks via satellite during the Science Channel portion of the 2010 Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 14, 2010 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Professor Stephen Hawking onstage during the New Space Exploration Initiative "Breakthrough Starshot" Announcement at One World Observatory on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Professor Stephen Hawking attends the New Space Exploration Initiative "Breakthrough Starshot" Announcement at One World Observatory on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 8, 2015, British scientist Stephen Hawking (C) arrives on the red carpet with former wife Jane Hawking (L) and daughter Lucy Hawking (R) for the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Opera House in London. 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 on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. WASHINGTON - AUGUST 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the Medal of Freedom to physicist Stephen Hawking during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House August 12, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States, to 16 recipients during the ceremony. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 03, 2007, professor Stephen Hawking poses for photographs in his office at The Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge, in central England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Stephen Hawking attends the Pride Of Britain awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel on October 31, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 14, 2008, South Africa former President Nelson Mandela (R) meets with British scientist Professor Stephen Hawking (L) in Johannesburg. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / DENIS FARRELLDENIS FARRELL/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 17, 2008, British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking offers a press conference at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago after after meeting with President Michelle Bachelet. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Martin BERNETTIMARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 23, 2014, British theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking gives a lecture during the Starmus Festival on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife. 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 on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / DESIREE MARTINDESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 23, 2014, British theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking gives a lecture during the Starmus Festival on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife. 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 on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / DESIREE MARTINDESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images
File photo dated 31/05/15 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76. PRESS ASSOCIATION PHOTO. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Professor Stephen Hawking onstage during the New Space Exploration Initiative "Breakthrough Starshot" Announcement at One World Observatory on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 14: Scientist Stephen Hawking of "Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking" speaks via satellite during the Science Channel portion of the 2010 Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 14, 2010 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Professor Stephen Hawking attends the New Space Exploration Initiative "Breakthrough Starshot" Announcement at One World Observatory on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Stephen Hawking attends the Pride Of Britain awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel on October 31, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
File photo dated 06/03/17 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76. PRESS ASSOCIATION PHOTO. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
File photo dated 31/05/15 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76. PRESS ASSOCIATION PHOTO. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 6, 1998, US President Bill Clinton (L) and British professor Stephen Hawking (R) watch a scene from "Star Trek the Next Generation" during a "Millennium Evening" at the White House in Washington, DC. 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 on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Tim SLOANTIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 24, 2017, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, 75, speaks to an audience by hologram (L) in Hong Kong, beamed live from his office in Cambridge, England. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Anthony WALLACEANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 3, 2007, professor Stephen Hawking poses for photographs in his office at The Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge in central England. 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 on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Leon NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 29, 2016, British theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking gives a lecture entitled: "A Brief History of Mine" during the Starmus Festival on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / DESIREE MARTINDESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 12, 2009, US President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House. 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 on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JEWEL SAMADJEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 12, 2006 (FILES) This file picture taken on June 12, 2006 shows British theoretical physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking (C) arriving at Hong Kong's international airport. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / SAMANTHA SINSAMANTHA SIN/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 09, 2014, British scientist Stephen Hawking (2L), his former wife Jane (2R) and British actors Felicity Jones (L) and Eddie Redmayne (R) attend the UK premiere of the film 'The Theory of Everything' in London. The film is based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, and stars Eddie Redmayne protraying the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 09, 2014 British actors Felicity Jones (L) and Eddie Redmayne (R) pose with British scientist Stephen Hawking (C) at the UK premiere of the film 'The Theory of Everything' in London. The film is based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, and stars Eddie Redmayne protraying the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 09, 2014 British actors Felicity Jones (L) and Eddie Redmayne (R) pose with British scientist Stephen Hawking (C) at the UK premiere of the film 'The Theory of Everything' in London. The film is based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, and stars Eddie Redmayne protraying the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 09, 2014 British actors Felicity Jones (L) and Eddie Redmayne (R) pose with British scientist Stephen Hawking (C) at the UK premiere of the film 'The Theory of Everything' in London. The film is based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, and stars Eddie Redmayne protraying the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 25, 2008, professor Stephen Hawking is pictured during a visit to Cape Finisterre, some 90 km from Santiago, northwestern Spain. 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 on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel RIOPAMIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 19, 2013, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking poses during a photo call for a gala screening of the documentary 'Hawking', a film about the scientist's life, at the opening night of the Cambridge Film Festival in Cambridge, eastern England. (FILES) In this file photo taken on December 09, 2014 British actors Felicity Jones (L) and Eddie Redmayne (R) pose with British scientist Stephen Hawking (C) at the UK premiere of the film 'The Theory of Everything' in London on December 9, 2014. The film is based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, and stars Eddie Redmayne protraying the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW COWIEANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 8, 2015, British scientist Stephen Hawking arrives for the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Opera House in London. 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 on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 12, 2009, Stephen Hawking receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House on August 12, 2009. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMADJEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
(Files) This combination of pictures created on March 14, 2018 shows (top left to bottom right) renowned cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking as he attends a press conference at One World Observatory April 12, 2016 in New York; appearing during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Park in east London on August 29, 2012; speaking to an audience by hologram (L) in Hong Kong, beamed live from his office in Cambridge, England; as he (R) is surrounded by media before he addressed a joint press conference between Washington and London where the directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists pushed the hands of the 'Doomsday Clock' - a barometer of nuclear danger for the past 55 years - by two minutes closer to the midnight hour symbolising nuclear conflict, in central London, 17 January 2007; as he attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England; as he speaks during an inaugural lecture "The Origin of the Universe" at the Hong University of Science and Technology, 15 June 2006; as he gives a press conference to present his latest book, "God Created the Integers: The mathematical breakthroughs that changed History" in Paris; is seen on a TV monitor during his conference to open the XXV Prince of Asturias Awards Anniversary event in Oviedo, northern Spain, 12April 2005. Stephen Hawking won the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord in 1989; as he attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England, on October 19, 2016. 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, his family said on March 14. Hawking, whose 1988 book "A Brief History of Time" became an unlikely worldwide bestseller and cemented his superstar status, dedicated his lif
(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 12, 2009, Stephen Hawking receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House on August 12, 2009. Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76, a family spokesman said Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 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." / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMADJEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
File photo dated 19/09/08 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, during the unveiling of The Corpus Clock, a new installation at Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
File photo dated 29/04/10 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, watching the first preview of his new show for the Discovery Channel, Stephen Hawking's Universe. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: David Parry/PA Wire
File photo dated 08/02/2015 of Eddie Redmayne and Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, arriving at the After-party dinner for the EE British Academy Film Awards at Grosvenor House Hotel in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire
File photo dated 09/09/1992 Professor Stephen Hawking, who had died aged 76, and Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin, with their portraits unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: /PA Wire
File photo dated 25/02/12 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, posing beside a lamp titled 'black hole light' by inventor Mark Champkins, presented to him during his visit to the Science Museum in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
File photo dated 9/12/2014 of Professor Stephen Hawking (front), who has died aged 76, with (from left) Felicity Jones, Jane Hawking and Eddie Redmayne, attending the UK Premiere of The Theory of Everything at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. (FILES) World famous British scientist Stephen Hawking gives a lecture at the Bloomfield Museum of Science in Jerusalem on December 10, 2006. Hawking, the wheelchair-bound British physicist whose book "A Brief History Of Time" became an international best-seller, is "very ill" in hospital, Cambridge University said on April 20, 2009. Hawking, 67, achieved worldwide fame for his research, writing and television documentaries despite suffering from a form of motor neurone disease that left him disabled and dependent on a voice synthesiser to communicate. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. LONDON - NOVEMBER 2: Scientist Stephen Hawking reads out names during a vigil at Trafalgar Square at which a list of names of people killed in the Iraq war is read out November 2, 2004 in London. The vigil, organized by Stop the War Coalition is to coincide with similar events throughout the world on the day of the United States presidential election. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. LONDON - JANUARY 17: Professor Stephen Hawking delivers his speech at the release of the 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' on January 17, 2007 in London, Ebgland. A group of scientists assessing the dangers posed to civilisation have moved the Doomsday Clock forward two minutes closer to midnight as an indication and warning of the threats of nuclear war and climate change. (Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. 399485 02: Physicist Stephen Hawking smiles at a symposium to honor his birthday at the Center for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge January 11, 2002 in Cambridge, England. Hawking turned 60-years-old on January 8, 2002 and is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton. (Photo by Sion Touhig/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. WASHINGTON - AUGUST 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the Medal of Freedom to physicist Stephen Hawking during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House August 12, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States, to 16 recipients during the ceremony. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 29: Queen Elizabeth II meets Professor Stephen Hawking (R) during a reception for Leonard Cheshire Disability in the State Rooms, St James's Palace on May 29, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Jonathan Brady - Pool / Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08: Eddie Redmayne and Professor Stephen Hawking attend the after party for the EE British Academy Film Awards at The Grosvenor House Hotel on February 8, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 20: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Stephen Hawking attends the closing night after party for 'Monty Python Live (Mostly)' at The O2 Arena on July 20, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. OVIEDO, SPAIN: Spanish Crown Prince Felipe (2nd L) and Princess Letizia (L) applaud British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking (R) after his conference to open the XXV Anniversary of the Prince of Asturias Awards in Oviedo, Northern Spain, 12 April 2005. AFP Photo / Miguel RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 file photo Pope Francis greets physicist Stephen Hawking during an audience with participants at a plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, at the Vatican. Hawking, whose brilliant mind ranged across time and space though his body was paralyzed by disease, has died, a family spokesman said early Wednesday, March 14, 2018. (L'Osservatore Romano/pool photo via AP, File)
FILE - MARCH 14: Renowned British Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Professor Stephen Hawking onstage during the New Space Exploration Initiative "Breakthrough Starshot" Announcement at One World Observatory on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009 file photo President Barack Obama applauds after presenting the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Stephen Hawking, the renown theoretical physicist and Cambridge University professor, during ceremonies at the White House in Washington. Hawking, whose brilliant mind ranged across time and space though his body was paralyzed by disease, has died, a family spokesman said early Wednesday, March 14, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, May 15, 2008 file photo former South African President Nelson Mandela, right, meets with British scientist Professor Stephen Hawking, left, in Johannesburg. Hawking, whose brilliant mind ranged across time and space though his body was paralyzed by disease, has died, a family spokesman said early Wednesday, March 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell, File)
(FILES) This file picture taken on August 18, 2002 shows Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist, delivering his lecture in Beijing. Millions of Chinese mourned Stephen Hawking on March 14, 2018, bidding farewell to a "giant star" admired in China for stoically rising above physical disability and for reaching out to Chinese fans on social media. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on April 27, 2017 shows participants listening to a recorded speech by British physicist Stephen Hawking on artificial intelligence as his image is seen on a screen at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing. Millions of Chinese mourned Stephen Hawking on March 14, 2018, bidding farewell to a "giant star" admired in China for stoically rising above physical disability and for reaching out to Chinese fans on social media. / AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKERGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file picture taken on August 18, 2002, shows Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist, receiving a bouquet of flowers after his lecture in Beijing. Millions of Chinese mourned Stephen Hawking on March 14, 2018, bidding farewell to a "giant star" admired in China for stoically rising above physical disability and for reaching out to Chinese fans on social media. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
File photo dated 19/12/2007 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, in front of a bust of himself, which was unveiled in Cambridge University's new Centre for Theoretical Cosmology. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
File photo dated 19/5/2007 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, at The Royal Society in London during a press conference previewing the Starmus science and arts festival. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
File photo dated 19/09/08 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, during the unveiling of The Corpus Clock, a new installation at Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
File photo dated 2/7/2017 of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, talking about his life and work during a public symposium to celebrate his 75th birthday at Lady Mitchell Hall in Cambridge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 14, 2018. See PA story DEATH Hawking. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

As the news circled the globe, Nasa, Cambridge University and world-renowned scientists paid their respects alongside many figures in the world of entertainment - the two fields Professor Hawking was able to successfully join.

In a statement, his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said: “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.

“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.”

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