Physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, a spokesman for his family has said.
The Briton was known for his ground-breaking work with black holes and relativity, and was the author of several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.
In a statement his children said: “He was a great scientist… whose work and legacy will live on for many years.
He was considered a medical marvel, having lived for more than half a century with the devastating condition motor neurone disease.
Stephen was born on January 8 1942 in Oxford – where his parents had decamped from north London for him to be born away from the worst of the wartime bombing raids.
When he was 8, the family moved to St Albans, attending school before going on to Oxford University.
While studying at Oxford, the young Stephen became increasingly clumsy, falling down the stairs and having trouble rowing.
His speech started to slur and he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a form of motor neurone disease – aged just 21, in 1963.
Doctors gave him a life expectancy of just two years – but incredibly he has lived with the condition for more than 50.
Some experts refuse to believe he has ALS because his life span has exceeded any expectations by so much.
He went on to Cambridge University to study Cosmology, gaining his PhD and becoming a research fellow and lecturer.
His most notable work has been on the basic laws which govern the universe – including theories about the Big Band and black holes.
A Brief History of Time – published in 1988 – made him a household name, explaining complex scientific theories to the masses.
In 2014 his life story was turned into the film The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his performance.
While he was unable to attend the ceremony, Professor Hawking posted a touching message on Facebook to say: “Well done Eddie, I’m very proud of you.”
From BBC New Photo: RICHARD ANSETT
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