Stephen Hawking, the most famous theoretical physicist since Albert Einstein, died early Wednesday morning at the age of 76.
The beloved scientist was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a motor-neuron disease, when he was only 21 years old. Despite the condition, he earned the respect of his peers with his research on black holes, and rose to fame with his 1988 bestseller A Brief History of Time.
"We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today," said Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, in a statement provided to Sky News.
"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."
He served as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, as did Sir Isaac Newton. Last year, the university made his doctoral thesis from 1966 available to the world.
Since then, his wit and humor made him a pop culture favorite, with appearances on shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Simpsons.
He died in his home in Cambridge after decades of inspiring people to learn about the cosmos.