World-renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. It was confirmed that he passed away early on Wednesday morning at his home in Cambridge.
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” his three children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, told the BBC in a statement. “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”
Most people be familiar with Hawking’s seminal book, A Brief History of Time, even if they haven’t necessarily read it from cover to cover. His work with Roger Penrose on black holes lead to a breakthrough discovery on the origin of the universe, when they used the mathematics of black holes to posit that a singularity was the origin of the big bang.
He also discovered that black holes radiate heat, before fading into nothingness – a phenomenon that was named Hawking radiation.
In addition to his contributions to science, Hawking became something of a pop culture celebrity with appearances on The Simpsons, Futurama, Star Trek, and The Big Bang Theory. He was portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in 2014’s biopic, The Theory of Everything, which earned the actor an Oscar for his performance at the 87th Academy Awards.
The tributes on social media are already in full force.
.@TheSimpsons RIP Stephen Hawking. A sense of humor as vast as the universe. pic.twitter.com/528kWRhfVR
— Al Jean (@AlJean) March 14, 2018
Farewell to Stephen Hawking, the most intelligent guest star in the brief history of The Simpsons pic.twitter.com/po3fIHgEdh
— Matt Selman (@mattselman) March 14, 2018
The Simpsons writer Al Jean, and executive producer Matt Selman, also paid their respects on social media, referencing Hawking’s intellect and sense of humour.
Neil deGrasse Tyson and Al Gore shared their condolences on Twitter, and were joined in their sentiment by NASA, and Larry King, who shared an anecdote from one of his interviews with the scientist.
“I once asked Stephen Hawking in an interview what puzzles him the most in all the universe. “Women,” he answered. He will be missed. R.I.P.,” King tweeted.
Actors Eddie Redmayne, and Benedict Cumberbatch – who have both portrayed Hawking in film – also paid tribute.
“We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet,” said Eddie Redmayne in a statement. “My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”
“I was so sad to hear that Stephen has died,” said Cumberbatch. “I feel so lucky to have known such a truly great man who’s profundity was found both in his work and the communication of that work. Both in person and in books. He virtually created the publishing genre of popular science. A heroic feat to bring the wondrous complexities of the universe to all outside of specialists in this field.
“But truly courageous when considering it was achieved by a man who lived a life trapped in his body from the age of 21 when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. His support of the sciences, art, education and the NHS and charities such as the MND foundation will also live on as will his wickedly funny sense of humour.
“I will miss our margaritas but will raise one to the stars to celebrate your life and the light of understanding you shone so brightly on them for the rest of us. You were and are a true inspiration for me and for millions around the world. Thank you.”
His children told the BBC that their father’s “brilliance and humour” were a source of inspiration for many. “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.”
Professor Hawking was a fellow at Cambridge University, and a book of condolences will be opened at Gonville and Caius College, one of the oldest and largest colleges of the university.
Shabana is a freelance writer who enjoys JRPGs, wine, and not finishing games. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.