Aged 21, Hawking was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease and told he only had a few years to live. He had to use a wheelchair and was unable to speak except through a voice synthesiser.
Here is a perfect example of Stephen Hawking's extraordinary ability to make serious science genuinely popular A 90-second explanation of black holes from his Reith Lectures. pic.twitter.com/nZBnWLe7Ry
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.
“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.”
Hawking’s 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, sold more than 10 million copies and inspired a documentary film by Errol Morris.
A movie was made about his life in 2014, The Theory of Everything. Eddie Redmayne won the Best Actor Oscar for the role.
Hawking also appeared in several TV shows including The Simpsons, Red Dwarf and The Big Bang Theory.
On Twitter, Nasa described Hawking as an “ambassador of science” and said he “unlocked a universe of possibilities”.
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
Professor Brian Cox said, “He spoke about the value and fragility of human life and civilisation and greatly enhanced both.”
Sad to hear about Stephen Hawking. What a remarkable life. His contributions to science will be used as long as there are scientists, and there are many more scientists because of him. He spoke about the value and fragility of human life and civilisation and greatly enhanced both
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said that “his passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake”.
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
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.
We lost a great one today. Stephen Hawking will be remembered for his incredible contributions to science – making complex theories and concepts more accessible to the masses. He’ll also be remembered for his spirit and unbounded pursuit to gain a complet…https://t.co/z1du859Gy2
Stephen Hawking died today. I nearly killed him, and he me, 15 years ago, when his wheelchair shot out between two parked cars at Cambridge, and I was on my bike. I swerved at the last moment. 100% his fault. God bless you and RIP.