Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking dead at 76, family spokesman says

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking dead at 76, family spokesman says

A spokesman for Hawking's family also confirmed the news to the BBC.

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, on October 19, 2016.

His was dubbed one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Albert Einstein.

He communicated his ideas through an American-accented speech synthesiser after a life-saving tracheotomy in 1985 took away his ability to speak.

But the power of his intellect contrasted cruelly with the weakness of his body, ravaged by the wasting motor neurone disease he contracted at the age of 21. He was told he had only a few years to live.

Hawking had a slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that gradually paralysed him.

He went on to become a researcher at the University of Cambridge and Professorial Fellow at the Gonville and Caius College.

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In 1970, Hawking realised the mathematical approaches he developed with Penrose could be applied to black holes, a term coined by physicist John Wheeler.

In 1979, Hawking became the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, formerly held by Isaac Newton.

Hawking was one of former President Obama's first recipients of the Medal of Freedom, awarded because he had overcome disability to push the boundaries of science.

The title "A Brief History of Time" was subsequently used for a 1991 documentary about Hawking himself, directed by Errol Morris with music by Philip Glass.

Hawking separated from his wife in 1991 and married his nurse, Elaine Mason, four years later.

The love story between Hawking and Wilde was retold in the 2014 film "The Theory of Everything", which won Britain's Eddie Redmayne the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of the scientist. They divorced in 2007.

Stephen Hawking, a genius who dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves.

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