Professor Stephen Hawking, the English theoretical physicist known for his work on black holes and his discovery of a phenomenon that would later be known as Hawking Radiation, died at his home in Cambridge early on Wednesday; he was 76-years-old. “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” his children said in a statement.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking Photo Credit: Doug Wheller/Wikimedia

The world has lost one of its most brilliant minds early on Wednesday as acclaimed physicist and author Stephen Hawking died at his Cambridge home, aged 76.  Hawking was known for his work on some of cosmology’s biggest questions, including black holes and the Big Bang, and for his best-selling popular science book A Brief History of Time (1988).

Hawking was also known for his extraordinary life story under the shadow of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative motor neuron disease with which he was diagnosed as a graduate student at the age of 22. Despite the fact that his doctors gave him only several years to live, Hawking lived on 50 years more than was predicted, during which his research would greatly impact the world of modern physics.

His quantum analysis of black holes has been lauded as a major stepping stone towards the ongoing efforts to discover a “Theory of Everything,” a single theory that would connect Einstein’s theories on gravity with quantum mechanics. This remains one of modern physics’ greatest challenges.

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” the scientist’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement on Wednesday. “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 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.”