Legendary scientist Stephen Hawking, who explained the complex workings of the universe to the masses in his writings as he hunted for the elusive “theory of everything,” died early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England, his family said. He was 76.
The physicist, who suffered from a debilitating neurological disorder, became one of the most famous voices in the sciences even as he communicated via a synthesized-speech box.
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement.
“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”
Hawking studied and explained complex theories of space, time, black holes and relativity.
Despite contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in 1963 and being given two years to live, Hawking continued his work and was named the Lucasian Professor at Cambridge in 1979 — the chair once held by Isaac Newton in 1663.
He sought to bring advanced scientific theories to a general audience with “A Brief History of Time,” which became an international best seller.
Hawking was involved in the almost mythical quest to find a “unified theory” of physics.
Such a theory would resolve the contradictions between Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which describes the laws of gravity that govern the motion of large objects like planets, and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, which deals with the world of subatomic particles.
He said finding a “theory of everything” would allow mankind to “know the mind of God.”
But he later admitted a “unified theory” might not be possible.
He followed up “A Brief History of Time” in 2001 with the more accessible sequel, “The Universe in a Nutshell,” updating readers on concepts like the possibility of an 11-dimension universe.
Hawking said belief in a God who intervenes in the universe “to make sure the good guys win or get rewarded in the next life” was wishful thinking.
“But one can’t help asking the question: Why does the universe exist?” he said in 1991. “I don’t know an operational way to give the question or the answer, if there is one, a meaning. But it bothers me.”
From the University of Cambridge have made an emotional tribute, here we leave the video: