Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the world's leading physicists, has died at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday. He was 76.
Professor Hawking died peacefully in the early hours of this morning, his family said in a statement.
His children Lucy, Robert and Tim said, "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. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world."
University of Cambridge has offered to open a book of condolence for anyone who would like to pay tribute to the life and work of Professor Hawking, the statement further said.
One of the greatest scientists of present times, Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo, in Oxford, England.
Physics was not his first choice of study at university. Hawking wanted to pursue mathematics while his father expected his son to specialise in medicine.
Mathematics was not available at University College, so he pursued physics instead, his website said, where he was awarded a first class honours degree in natural science.
Hawking, apart from other accomplishments, is known for his work on the basic laws that govern the universe.
With Roger Penrose, in 1970, he showed that Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. These results indicated that it was necessary to unify general relativity with quantum theory, the other great scientific development of the first half of the 20th century.
"One consequence of such a unification that he discovered was that black holes should not be completely black, but rather should emit 'Hawking' radiation and eventually evaporate and disappear," his website said.
Professor Stephen Hawking has thirteen honorary degrees. He was awarded CBE (1982), Companion of Honour (1989) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009). He is the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes, most notably the Fundamental Physics prize (2013), Copley Medal (2006) and the Wolf Foundation prize (1988). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.In 1963 Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, shortly after his 21st birthday. In spite of being wheelchair-bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication Stephen continues to combine family life (he has three children and three grandchildren) with his research into theoretical physics, in addition to an extensive programme of travel and public lectures. He still hopes to make it into space one day.
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."