Stephen Hawking, the best-known theoretical physicist of his time, has died at the age of 76, a family spokesman said early Wednesday.
The physicist, known for his work with black holes and relativity, wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.
“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement.
Stephen Hawking was considered one of science’s biggest celebrities since Albert Einstein.
Hawking was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford in 1942, the eldest of four children.
He was given a scholarship to study at University College, Oxford, where he studied natural sciences.
At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
However, he stunned doctors by living with the normally fatal illness for more than 50 years.
A severe attack of pneumonia in 1985 left him breathing through a tube, forcing him to communicate through an electronic voice synthesizer that gave him his distinctive robotic monotone.
Hawking continued his writings for a popular audience, publishing The Universe in a Nutshell in 2001.
He also authored A Briefer History of Time in 2005 with Leonard Mlodinow to update his earlier works with the aim of making them accessible to a wider audience.
Through his work with mathematician Sir Roger Penrose he demonstrated that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes.
The scientist gained popularity outside the academic world and appeared in several TV shows including The Simpsons, Red Dwarf and The Big Bang Theory.
His life story was the subject of the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne in an Academy Award-winning role.