Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Science | By Hubert Green

Stephen Hawking dead at 76

Stephen Hawking dead at 76

The Theory of Everything became the title of the 2014 film that charted Professor Hawking's early life and how he came to terms with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the crippling disease that gradually paralysed him.

Hawking, whose 1988 book "A Brief History of Time" became an unlikely worldwide bestseller and cemented his superstar status, dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe.

His book "A Brief History of Time" appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.

"He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years", Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today condoled the demise of cosmologist Stephen Hawking and said his grit and tenacity inspired people all over the world. He was able to move only a few fingers on one hand and was completely dependent on others or on technology for virtually everything - bathing, dressing, eating, even speech.

The illness gradually robbed him of mobility, leaving him confined to a wheelchair, nearly completely paralysed and unable to speak except through his trademark voice synthesiser.

Doctors predicted he would only live a few years, but he instead thrived, focusing on his work that included seeking to bridge the gap between Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity that describes the motion of large objects and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics dealing with subatomic particles.

The famed scientist was married and divorced twice. Hawking also discovered that black holes are not completely black but emit radiation and will likely eventually evaporate and disappear. He and his first wife, Jane Wilde, Wednesday when he was still a grad student and remained together for 30 years before divorcing in 1995.

In May last year, Hawking warned that humans should leave earth within 100 years if we wanted to survive. After that, he tied the knot with his nurse, Elaine Mason, with whom Hawking spent his next 11 years. "We have lost an fantastic human being". President Ram Nath Kovind also paid his respects to the legend: Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted: "The world has lost a attractive mind and a brilliant scientist".

He relished making cameo apparitions on television shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory.

"This complete set of laws can give us the answers to questions like how did the universe begin", he said.

"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake", tweeted Neil deGrasse Tyson.

In 1974, he became one of the youngest fellows of Britain's most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, at the age of 32. "Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure".

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