Renowned British scientist Stephen Hawking, known for his breakthrough ideas in theoretical physics and space research, has died at the age of 76, his family says.
“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,” Hawking’s children Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement.
The world-famous astrophysicist had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a debilitating neurological condition, for over half a century.
Diagnosed with the slow-progressing disease at the age of 21, Hawking was given a mere two years to live. But beating all the odds, he built a remarkable career as a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, popularizing science with his best-selling book, ‘A Brief History of Time.’
Hawking believed in the colonization of Mars, arguing that the Earth is “becoming too small for us” and will soon be unable to sustain human life. He said people will eventually master space travel beyond the Solar System, and even this generation could manage to send a probe to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to Earth.
Professor Hawking was known for his skeptical view of humans’ ability to keep Earth intact. Last May, he said that humanity only has about 100 years left to colonize another plant if it wants to survive.
Hawking’s name, perhaps unusually for a scientist, has long since become a part of popular culture. He made a cameo in TV series ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and inspired the Oscar-winning movie ‘The History of Everything,’ where his character was played by Eddie Redmayne.
Hawking did not shy away from politics either. In one of his latest endeavors, he joined a campaign against the UK government’s policy that could lead to the privatization, or “Americanization,” of the national healthcare service.
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