Stephen Hawking, the world's most famous physicist, dies at age of 76

Physicist author and Cambridge University Professor Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking, the world's most famous physicist, dies at age of 76

"Stephen Hawking, confined to a wheel chair, had thoughts flicker in his brain that changed the world more than entire generations of modern politicians".

SOME of the world's greatest minds have paid tribute to Professor Stephen Hawking who has died aged 76.

Popular science comedy show The Big Bang Theory tweeted a photo of the cast with Stephen Hawking.

The University of Cambridge has confirmed that the physicist died in the early hours of 14 March at his home in Cambridge, England.

"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.

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For the rest of his life, the physicist used a wheelchair to move around and a speech synthesizer that allowed him to speak in a computerised voice with an American accent.

His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

Doctors predicted he would only live a few years, but he instead thrived, focusing on his work that included seeking to bridge the gap between Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity that describes the motion of large objects and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics dealing with subatomic particles. A previous holder of the prestigious post was the 17th-century British scientist Isaac Newton.

Inside the shell of his increasingly useless body was a razor-sharp mind, fascinated by the nature of the Universe, how it was formed and how it might end.

"My goal is simple", he once said.

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Bousso, now at the University of California at Berkeley, recalls how he had to learn to shake off his awe and relax around Hawking.

The love story between Hawking and Wilde was retold in the 2014 film "The Theory of Everything", which won Britain's Eddie Redmayne the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of the scientist.

He never received a Nobel Prize, but his theories about the nature of black holes and spacetime contributed to Nobel-winning discoveries such as the first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO. The book addressed, and explained, complex concepts such as black holes, the big bang and the relation of space and time.

Professor Hawking is 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.

The combination of his best-selling book and his nearly total disability - for a while he could use a few fingers, later he could only tighten the muscles on his face - made him one of science's most recognizable faces.

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