Stephen William Hawking died at 76 – battled motor neurone disease, he was born in Oxford on 8 January 1942. His father, a research biologist, had moved with his mother from London to escape German bombing. He was theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.
His scientific works include a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics
A man of great humour, he became a popular ambassador for science and was always careful to ensure that the general public had ready access to his work. His book A Brief History of Time became an unlikely best-seller although it is unclear how many people actually managed to get to the end of it.