Physics Pioneer Stephen Hawking Is No More, Dies Peacefully At 76


Hawking authored seven books, co-authored nine others, and was the recipient of dozens of scientific, academic, and other awards including The Albert Einstein Award, The Hughes Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the age of 21, a disease that eventually confined him to a wheelchair and took away this ability to speak, leaving Hawking to communicate through a voice synthesizer. Even more shocking to researchers was the fact that Hawking radiation should erase information from the Universe, in apparent contradiction to some of the basic tenets of quantum theory, as Hawking pointed out in 1976.

"I am quite often asked: how do you feel about having ALS?" he once wrote.

"Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking".

Bousso, now at the University of California at Berkeley, recalls how he had to learn to shake off his awe and relax around Hawking.

In 1974, he became one of the youngest fellows of Britain's most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, at the age of 32.

As one of Isaac Newton's successors as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, Hawking was involved in the search for the great goal of physics - a "unified theory".

Characteristically, he did not see the trip as a mere birthday present. He said he did it to encourage interest in space travel.

"I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go into space", he said.

While his many contributions will live on there is no doubt that science and the wider world is the poorer for his passing.

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Hawking spent most of his adult like in a motorized scooter.

It was followed in 2001 by "The Universe in a Nutshell".

He made cameo television appearances in "The Simpsons" and "Star Trek" and counted among his fans U2 guitarist The Edge, who attended a January 2002 celebration of Hawking's 60th birthday.

That new theory capped his three-decade struggle to explain a paradox in scientific thinking: How can objects really "disappear" inside a black hole and leave no trace, as he long believed, when subatomic theory says matter can be transformed but never fully destroyed?

Sometimes it feels like science is losing ground in the modern world, but people still look to the stars for answers about who we are and how we come to be here.

Hawking is survived by three children - Robert, Lucy and Timothy - from his first marriage to Jane Wilde, and three grandchildren. Hawking was later married for 11 years to Elaine Mason, one of his former nurses.

FILE PHOTO: Stephen Hawking arrives at the United Kingdom premiere of the film "The Theory of Everything" which is based around his life, at a cinema in central London, Britain, December 9, 2014.

The Oscar triumph was celebrated by Hawking, who has reportedly said there were moments watching the film when he thought he was watching himself.