Stephen Hawking, the world-famous theoretical physicist who is credited with helping to shape modern cosmology, has passed away at his home in Cambridge at the age of 76, according to BBC News. Hawking has long dealt with the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS — also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease or motor neurone disease — leading to his paralysis and health complications over the years.
His family confirmed the passing in a statement, sharing some sweet words about their father and a loving quote from him about the universe according to The Guardian:
“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 for ever.”
As The Guardian points out, his physical state didn’t stop Hawking’s insights, theories, “intuition,” and sense of humor from showing out. His influence and work lives on through his many contemporaries, changing the way we all think about the universe in the process. As shared by The Guardian, his life always had a certain end due to his disease, but it never forced him to submit or give up on his life’s work:
“Although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research,” he once said. Embarking on his career in earnest, he declared: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
Many tributes and thoughts about Hawking quickly poured online from both his fans and fellow members of the science community: