On Wednesday, world renowned physicist, author and cosmologist Stephen Hawking passed away in his home in Cambridge, United Kingdom at the age of 76 according to his family's statement.
Born on January 8, 1972, the British icon was well-known for his works about black holes and relativity, becoming one of the pioneers looking into cosmology as a union between relativity and quantum mechanics.
In a statement from the physicist's children Lucy, Robert and Tim, they 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."
They also spoke about his courage and persistence and said his "brilliance and humor" has inspired people across the world.
They also added, "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."
In 1963, when he was 22, Professor Hawking was given just a few years to live after being discovered he has a rare form of motor neurone disease that rendered him paralyzed and unable to talk except through a voice synthesizer.
In his memoir in 2013, he spoke about what he felt when he was first diagnosed with the disease and shared, "I felt it was very unfair - why should this happen to me. At that time, I thought my life was over and that I would never realize the potential I had. But now, 50 years later, I can be quietly satisfied with my life."
After being diagnosed with a motor neurone disease, Hawking established his discovery regarding black holes in 1974 and pointed that it leaks energy and fades to nothing afterward. This discovery was then used to coin the term "Hawking radiation" to explain the phenomenon.
A year later, he was given the title "Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the Cambridge" for his contribution in the study of theoretical physics and cosmology.
In 1988, he published a book entitled 'A Brief History of Time', which speaks about the history of the universe and its possible fate. The book has become a bestseller and sold 10 million copies in just 20 years.
He also worked with mathematician Sir Roger Penrose in 1996 to demonstrate Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which implies that space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and it will end in black holes.
It is said he was offered a knighthood for his works in the 1990s, but he revealed 10 years later that he turned it down over the issues regarding the funding for science by the government.
Aside from his academic works, Hawking has also gained popularity in popular media, appearing in various shows and films. One of his major appearances included the holographic simulation of himself in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' in 1993 and a cartooned version for his appearance in an episode of 'The Simpsons' in 1999.
He also advertised several products, including a special wheelchair.
He was also quite active in social media, including in the Chinese social media Sina Weibo. As of press time, he has 4.6 million followers in his account.
Fans and others who wish to pay tribute to the late physicist can drop by Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge to write on the book of condolenses that will be opened for all. Hawking was a fellow in both colleges.