Stephen Hawking, renowned scientist, dies at 76

Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane on their wedding day

Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane on their wedding day

Stephen Hawking was a prolific author with a knack for making books on challenging scientific topics engaging to a wide spectrum of readers.

FILE PHOTO: Stephen Hawking arrives at the United Kingdom premiere of the film "The Theory of Everything" which is based around his life, at a cinema in central London, Britain, December 9, 2014.

Hawking was known for his biting sense of humor, and had said that it "is what keeps me going".

The British physicist was born in Oxford in 1942.

One of Hawking's former students at Cambridge, theoretical physicist Raphael Bousso, told Nature that his teacher was a brilliant physicist who also excelled at communicating science to the public.

- "Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays": This best-selling 1994 collection includes a mix of personal and scientific essays.

News of Hawking's death at 76 quickly became the top-trending Weibo topic, with the hashtag #Hawking passed# generating more than 300 million reads and almost 200,000 comments within a few hours after his death was announced.

"Hawking shot to global fame after the 1988 publication of "“A Brief History of Time", one of the most complex books ever to achieve mass appeal, which stayed on the Sunday Times best-sellers list for no fewer than 237 weeks. The book sold more than 10 million copies, and has been translated into 35 languages.

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"Despite my disability, I have managed to do most things I want", Hawking said.

It's also believed that the scientist was a rash driver. Black holes were not truly black. Hawking, he added, "really is at the extreme end of the scale when it comes to survival".

In a statement, his three surviving children expressed their grief at losing their father.

Jane cared for Hawking for 20 years, until a grant from the United States paid for the 24-hour care he required. In 1989, Queen Elizabeth II made him a Companion of Honor, one of the highest distinctions she can bestow.

His base of operations was Cambridge University in Britain, but he traveled widely around the world. He retired from his chair as Lucasian Professor in 2009 and took up a research position with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. His other children are Lucy Hawking and Timothy Hawking.

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. Police found no evidence of any abuse.

Lucy Hawking said her father had an exasperating "inability to accept that there is anything he can not do". "I seemed to be getting worse very rapidly".

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