Legendary theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, died early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.
His death was confirmed by a spokesman for Cambridge University.
Hawking suffered from a rare, early-onset form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that gradually paralyzed him over the decades. However, he surprised doctors, as he continued living life despite the disease which typically leads to death within years. The ALS gradually disabled his body (but not his mind), forcing him to use a wheelchair and his trademark voice synthesizer, which he controlled using his cheek’s movement.
Despite his physical limitations, Hawking was an outspoken proponent of science. He also was a renowned public speaker and author that helped to popularize science among a wide audience. In an interview, Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York said:
Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world.
He will be missed.