Stephen Hawking, world-renowned theoretical physicist who defied a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and went on to make vast contributions to the worlds of thermodynamics, physics, relativity, and quantum mechanics, passed away in the very early hours this morning at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76. His family released a statement saying he passed away peacefully, but gave no indication of cause of death, however over the past year his health had been slowly decreasing. Hawking is best known for his work with black holes and Einstein’s theory of relativity. He authored several books, the most famous being A Brief History In Time. He also co-authored several books for both children and adults with his daughter Lucy which center around physics, time, and the universe.
Hawking’s work focused on the basic laws of the universe. While working with Roger Penrose, he applied a new theoretical model to Einstein’s theory of relativity which suggested that space and time are infinite and begin with the Big Bang and eventually end in black holes. This led to the understanding that general relativity and quantum theory must be unified. This unification lead to Hawking discovering that black holes may not be completely black, but would emit a radiation, which was eventually dubbed Hawking radiation, then slowly either evaporate or disappear.
Several people and institutions, such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and NASA, have been sending out their condolences to Hawking’s family and honoring Mr. Hawking through Twitter:
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