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.

“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 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.”

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.

He died at his home in Cambridge after decades of inspiring people to learn about the cosmos.

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