Stephen Hawking, the world-renown theoretical physicist who battled against the odds after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis early in his adult life, a condition that left him paralyzed and wheelchair-bound, has died at age 76, said a family spokesman on Tuesday. Even with his significant physical challenges, he contributed to the scientific community throughout his life.
Hawking was an extremely accomplished physicist, known for his many books, including the best selling “A Brief History of Time.” He also taught mathematics and physics, frequently spoke about complex scientific theories and principles, and worked in fields like cosmology and quantum gravity.
He was never ambiguous about what he wanted to accomplish. “My goal is simple,” Hawking once said, according to a report by Fox News. “It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
Hawking, near his 70th birthday, gave a rare interview to New Scientist magazine, during which he admitted there was one puzzle he had yet to solve.
When asked what he contemplated most during his days, he replied, “Women. They are a complete mystery.”
Hawking was also upfront about his physical capabilities, including their influence on his renown.
“I’m sure my disability has a bearing on why I’m well known,” he once said. “People are fascinated by the contrast between my very limited physical powers and the vast nature of the universe I deal with.”
“I’m the archetype of a disabled genius, or should I say a physically challenged genius, to be politically correct,” he added. “At least I’m obviously physically challenged. Whether I’m a genius is more open to doubt.”
Hawking was twice married and divorced, first to Jane Wilde, who he was married for 28 years, and Elaine Mason, who served as his nurse for a time and to whom he was married for 11 years.
He is survived by his three children, all from his first marriage, Robert, Timothy, and Lucy.
Along with the Ph.D. he received from Cambridge, he was also awarded 12 honorary degrees, was elected as one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society, made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, named a Companion of Honor, and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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
— NASA (@NASA) March 14, 2018