World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking passed away Wednesday. He was 76.
The professor’s family released a statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning confirming he died in his home, according to The Guardian.
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, with first wife Jane said in the statement.
“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” it continued. “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.”
Jane and Hawking divorced in 1995 after 30 years of marriage, but she remained a constant in his life. He remarried Elaine Mason that same year and they were together 11 years before ending their marriage.
Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurons disease at 21 years of age in 1963 and was given two years to live. As his condition worsened, Hawking gradually began to lose his ability to move, slowly being able to communicate by using a single cheek muscle that was attached to a device that allowed him to speak.
Despite his diagnosis, he continued his studies at Cambridge University and went on to change the subject of cosmology.
In 2014, Hawking’s life was adapted into the film The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne, who played the physicist, and Felicity Jones, who played his ex-wife Jane.
In his 1988 bestseller, A Brief History of Time, Hawking wrote of finding a “theory of everything,” which he explained as a series of equations that would be able to describe every particle and force in the universe, according to The Guardian.
“It would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God,” he wrote.
The book catapulted his fame from just within academia and he became a household name.
He became a familiar figure in pop culture, with guest roles on The Simpsons and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Matt Selman, executive producer of The Simpsons, shared his condolences on Twitter, writing, “Farewell to Stephen Hawking, the most intelligent guest star in the brief history of The Simpsons.”
As news broke many more took to social media to mourn and commemorate his life, including actress Emmy Rossum, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, Macaulay Culkin and Kumail Nanjiani.
As a man of science who faced his mortality young but defied what doctors thought was possible, Hawking was very at peace with death.
In 2011, Hawking said he didn’t believe in heaven, likening it to a “fairy story” for people afraid to die.
“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years,” he told The Guardian. “I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail,” he continued. “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”