Scientist Stephen Hawking dead at age 76

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking died on March 14 Reuters File

Stephen Hawking, one of the most influential physicists of the twentieth century and perhaps the most celebrated icon of contemporary science, has died at the age of 76. "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years", Hawking's children said in a statement.

"His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world".

A family spokesman said he died peacefully at his home in the city of Cambridge where he worked for decades as the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.

Hawking's family released a statement confirming his death in the early hours of this morning. 10News will continue to update as details become available. "Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many", Hawking said in 2016, at the opening of a new AI research centre at Cambridge University. "It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all", Hawking added.

Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England. He said Hawking had been an inspiration to people with the disease for many years.

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As he was preparing to marry his first wife, Jane, in 1964 his doctors gave him no more than two or three years of life.

In later years he made several TV and film cameos as himself, notably in Little Britain and The Big Bang Theory.

Hawking first earned prominence for his theoretical work on black holes. "But they are mostly things I don't particularly want to do anyway".

In 2007, he became the first quadriplegic to experience weightlessness on board the so-called "vomit comet", a modified plane specially created to simulate zero gravity.

Asked about his long life, Hawking said in 2011 he was "lucky" to be a scientist.

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"I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go into space", he said. But it was A Brief History of Time that rocketed Hawking to stardom. "I seemed to be getting worse very rapidly".

This emission, he reasoned, should ultimately lead the black hole to shrink and disappear.

In 2004, Hawking conceded a mistake on black holes.

Hawking, whose 1988 book "A Brief History of Time" became an unlikely worldwide bestseller and cemented his superstar status, dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe.

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