English physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking dead at 76

  • English physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking dead at 76

English physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking dead at 76

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday expressed grief over the death of eminent British theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking who died at the age of 76.

In a statement, Prof Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said: "We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today".

Professor Hawking's children in a statement described him as 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", the family said. "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". Even more shocking to researchers was the fact that Hawking radiation should erase information from the Universe, in apparent contradiction to some of the basic tenets of quantum theory, as Hawking pointed out in 1976.

As an astrophysicist who has spent a significant fraction of my career working on the observational aspects of black holes using radio telescopes, and hoping to continue that with the billion dollar Square Kilometre Array over the next decade, Stephen Hawking's work to understand the physics of black holes is close to my heart.

But that's not the only major contribution or discovery that Hawking will be remembered for.

Hawking defied predictions he would only live for a few years after developing a form of motor neurone disease in 1964 at the age of 22.

He won the Albert Einstein Award, the Wolf Prize, the Copley Medal, and the Fundamental Physics Prize.

Yet Hawking once said if he had the chance to meet Newton or Marilyn Monroe, he would opt for the movie star. He often paid tribute to his wife, who had looked after him for more than 20 years, and friends and relatives were shocked when he left her for one of his nurses, whom he married in 1995.

Police investigated in 2004 after newspapers reported that he'd been beaten, suffering injuries including a broken wrist, gashes to the face and a cut lip, and was left stranded in his garden on the hottest day of the year.

Lucy Hawking said her father had an exasperating "inability to accept that there is anything he can not do". "I fell over and had great difficulty getting up", he told the audience. "I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many". "I seemed to be getting worse very rapidly".