One of the galaxy's brightest minds, physicist Stephen Hawking, has died at age 76 and tributes have come in from all corners of the globe.
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Hawking finally lost his battle overnight with ALS, a rare form of motor neurone disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, outliving the predictions of doctors by decades. Hawking's family released a statement today saying, "His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world.
"He once said, 'It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love'. We will miss him forever."
The celebrated English physicist had attained almost a cult-like status in recent years. He wrote the bestselling book “A Brief History of Time” and appeared on hit TV programs like “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory,” while his life was the subject of multiple films including the Oscar-winning 2014 drama-romance “The Theory of Everything.”
"We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet," Eddie Redmayne, who starred as Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” said in a statement today. "My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family."
“The Big Bang Theory” cast also tweeted out a photo with Hawking, thanking him for "inspiring us and the world."
British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted: "His legacy will not be forgotten."
"Professor Stephen Hawking was a brilliant and extraordinary mind - one of the great scientists of his generation. His courage, humour and determination to get the most from life was an inspiration. His legacy will not be forgotten." — PM— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) March 14, 2018
NASA tweeted: "May you keep flying like superman in microgravity."
In 2007, Hawking became the first quadriplegic to experience weightlessness and has said his "ultimate ambition" was to go to space aboard a commercial suborbital spaceflight. Richard Branson's company Virgin Galactic once even promised Hawking a trip to space, and Hawking said he accepted immediately.
Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science. His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014 pic.twitter.com/FeR4fd2zZ5— NASA (@NASA) March 14, 2018
Fellow scientists also paid tribute to the star of his generation, including U.S. astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and artificial intelligence researcher Demis Hassabis.
His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018. pic.twitter.com/nAanMySqkt— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 14, 2018
The world has lost a beautiful mind and an extraordinary human being. Such a privilege to have once had the chance to talk to Stephen about AI. RIP Stephen Hawking pic.twitter.com/w4SPl4RLsX— Demis Hassabis (@demishassabis) March 14, 2018
Even the Pontifical Academy of Sciences paid its respects, tweeting a picture of Hawking and Pope Francis.
We are deeply saddened about the passing of our remarkable Academician Stephen #Hawking who was so faithful to our Academy. He told the 4 Popes he met that he wanted to advance the relationship between Faith and Scientific Reason. We pray the Lord to welcome him in his Glory https://t.co/iZyWrFaLnr— Casina Pio IV (@CasinaPioIV) March 14, 2018
Google CEO Sundar Pichai weighed in, too.
The world has lost a beautiful mind and a brilliant scientist. RIP Stephen Hawking— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) March 14, 2018
And world leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took to Twitter to celebrate Hawking.
Professor Stephen Hawking was an outstanding scientist and academic. His grit and tenacity inspired people all over the world. His demise is anguishing. Professor Hawking’s pioneering work made our world a better place. May his soul rest in peace.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 14, 2018
Film director Errol Morris, who directed a documentary on the physicist, wrote: "We were lucky to have him for so long."
It had to happen, eventually. We were lucky to have him for so long, and I was lucky to be able to work with him. A truly fabulous human being. Stephen Hawking. Funny, perverse, and, of course, brilliant.— errolmorris (@errolmorris) March 14, 2018
Stars who paid tribute to Hawking on Twitter include Steven Tyler, Sharon Stone and Katy Perry.
there’s a big black hole in my heart hours before Pi day. Rest In Peace @Steven_Hawking... See you in the next ??— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) March 14, 2018
Rest In Peace Stephen Hawking. ?? pic.twitter.com/QxvrltnDJq— Sharon Stone (@sharonstone) March 14, 2018
Wow. Stephen Hawking. Nothing but respect. R.I.P.— Boy George (@BoyGeorge) March 14, 2018
YOU KNEW THIS UNIVERSE BETTER THAN THE REST OF US...AND NOW YOU PLAY IN SOME FAR AWAY PART OF IT. YOU CHANGED THE WORLD AND LEFT AN IMPACT...A REMARKABLE GENIUS WE WONT SOON FORGET. ENDLESS THANK YOUS AND BLESSINGS TO THE HAWKING FAMILY. GOD BLESS STEPHEN HAWKING. pic.twitter.com/UxnNknbMaB— Steven Tyler (@IamStevenT) March 14, 2018
RIP STEPHEN HAWKING I'm gonna cry— Jaden Smith (@officialjaden) March 14, 2018
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge"— Courtney Love Cobain (@Courtney) March 14, 2018
RIP Stephen Hawking
Cheers to you Stephen Hawking, the greatest mental athlete of our time. You are all that is! See you around, buddy! ;^) pic.twitter.com/LEqYnFn2rW— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) March 14, 2018