Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76

Professor Stephen Hawking at Cambridge in 2013

Stephen Hawking at the Centre of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge

To many of us, Stephen Hawking was a symbol - a symbol of the immense capabilities of the human being, a symbol of never surrendering mind, and of science itself.

In recent years, Stephen Hawking had raised the alarm about the potential threat of artificial intelligence. He became confined to a wheelchair in the late 1960s, but his intellect would remain bright and active until his passing. Humor, however, was not just one side of his personality, but a key to overcoming the degenerative motor neuron disease he struggled against since 1963.

Stephen Hawking was a point of reference for scientists and science lovers and member of Starmus Advisory Board. It sold 10 million copies and was translated into 40 different languages.

Astrophysicist Dr Karan Jani, who works for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), wrote: "The courage for a career in astrophysics happened due to Brief History of Time - a used copy that I got from a street vendor in my small town of [India] 12 yrs ago".

And, with the approval of Hawking, the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, an organisation of UK-based academics to support the academic boycott of Israel, said in a statement at the time: "This is his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there".

Redmayne said at the time of the film that Hawking wanted to live life to the full - and that he always had a glint in his eye. Scientists refer to such potential emanations as "Hawking radiation".

Stephen Hawking knew how to throw a good party, whether people attended or not.

"He was asking and trying to address the very biggest questions we were trying to ask: the birth of the universe, black holes, the direction of time", said University of Chicago cosmologist Michael Turner. The couple married in September 1995 but divorced in 2006. For Hawking, the early diagnosis of his terminal disease ignited a fresh sense of purpose.

Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran shared his memory of meeting the physicist. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference.

Observatory director the Rev. Guy Consolmagno said Wednesday that the observatory mourned Hawking's death.

Professor Hawking was married twice. "I am probably better known for my appearances on 'The Simpsons' and on "The Big Bang Theory" than I am for my scientific discoveries". "Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure". With Hawking, his work was too complicated for most people, but they understood that what he was trying to figure out was basic, even primal.

As Hawking has previously said in one of his lectures: "Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang".

He was inducted into the Royal Society in 1974 and received the Albert Einstein Award in 1978. Writing in her autobiographical "Music to Move the Stars", she said the strain of caring for Hawking for nearly three decades had left her feeling like "a brittle, empty shell". Police found no evidence of any abuse.

Then, grinning widely, he added, "I seem to manage to do anything that I really want".

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