Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim, issued the following statement, "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 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 for ever."
Hawking lived a long life after being diagnosed with a motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21. At the time, Hawking was only expected to live for a few more years, but the form of the disease he was afflicted with progressed more slowly allowing him to survive for many more decades. The disease did take a toll on his body, eventually leaving him confined to a wheelchair and only able to speak with assistive devices. However, the disease never touched his brilliant mind.
Hawking has a number of scientific breakthroughs to his credit, with his first major breakthrough coming in 1970. In that breakthrough, he and Roger Penrose used the mathematics of black holes to show that a singularity, described as a region of infinite curvature in spacetime, lay in our distant past. That was said to be where the big bang originated creating our universe.
Hawking is known by many as the author of the book A Brief History of Time first published in 1988. That book stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for 237 weeks, sold 10 million copies and was translated into 40 languages. The book landed a Guinness World Record for time spent on the bestsellers list.
Hawking had some major concerns about AI and its potential to harm humanity. Hawking was also outspoken about religion having stated that he didn’t believe in heaven or an afterlife. He said, "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."