BREAKING: Professor Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76

PROFESSOR Stephen Hawking, one of the most renowned and esteemed scientists of all time, has died at the age 76, according to a spokesman for his family.In a statement Professor Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.”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 humour 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.'”Born in Oxford on January 8 1942 – 300 years after the death of astronomer Galileo Galilei – Prof Hawking grew up in St Albans.He had a difficult time at the local public school and was persecuted as a “swot” who was more interested in jazz, classical music and debating than sport and pop.

Although not top of the class, he was good at maths and “chaotically enthusiastic in chemistry”.Fellow scientists and loved ones said it was his intuition and wicked sense of humour that him out as much as his broken body and synthetic voice.Professor Hawking suffered from a rate early-onset slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease.He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21.Doctors expected him to live for only two more years, but he had a form of the disease which progressed more slowly than usual.Hawking once estimated he worked only 1,000 hours during his undergraduate years at Oxford.He wrote in his 2013 autobiography, My Brief History: “You were supposed to be either brilliant without effort, or accept your limitations.”In his finals, Hawking came borderline between a first and a second class degree.Convinced he was a difficult student, he told his viva examiners if they gave him a first he would move to Cambridge to pursue his PHD but if they gave him a second he would stay in Oxford – he was awarded a first.When embarking on his career, he said: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”He long fought the use of a wheelchair, using crutches in the 1960s.

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