Stephen Hawking, Renowned Physicist, Dies at 76

Scientist Stephen Hawking of "Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking" speaks via satellite at the 2010 Television Critics Association Press Tour
Scientist Stephen Hawking of "Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking" speaks via satellite at the 2010 Television Critics Association Press Tour  Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

A pioneer for science and a venerable ambassador for space, Stephen Hawking died early Wednesday March 14, 2018, the BBC reports.

Hawking, who authored the best-selling book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” was diagnosed with the motor neuron disease called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1962 when he was at university in Cambridge for post-grad research in cosmology, according to the BBC.

Hawking was gearing up to marry his first wife, Jane Wilde, when doctors predicted he only had two or three more years to live. Thankfully, the disease advanced slowly.

Jane wrote about their life together in “Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen,” which was adapted into the 2014 movie The Theory of Everything. Hawking was played by Eddie Redmayne, who won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance.

(Hawking later married Elaine Mason in 1995, a nurse who cared for him, according to The New York Times; they divorced in 2006.)

Over the span of Hawking’s illustrious career, he discovered black holes aren’t really black after all. Through a convoluted calculation, Hawking found those deep, dark pits of cosmic matter eventually fizzle out, leeching radiation until they detonate and disappear, according to the The New York Times.

This watershed moment is considered “the first great landmark in the struggle to find a single theory of nature — to connect gravity and quantum mechanics,” The New York Times reports.

Hawking leaves behind daughter, Lucy, and sons, Robert and Tim.

Go here for a timeline of Hawking’s life by the Associated Press.