World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking passed away Wednesday. He was 76.
The professor’s family released a statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning confirming he died in his home, according to The Guardian.
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in the statement.
“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” it continued. “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.”
Hawking became afflicted with motor neurons disease in 1963 when he was 21 and was given two years to live. As his condition worsened, Hawking gradually began to lose his ability to move, slowly being able to communicate by using a single cheek muscle that was attached to a device that allowed him to speak.
Despite his diagnosis, he continued his studies at Cambridge University and went on to change the subject of cosmology.
In 2014, Hawking’s life was adapted into the film The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne, who played the physicist, and Felicity Jones, who played his ex-wife Jane.
In his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking wrote of finding a “theory of everything,” which he explained as a series of equations that would be able to describe every particle and force in the universe, according to The Guardian.
“It would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God,” he wrote.
The book catapulted him toward fame, with guest roles on The Simpsons and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
He became a familiar figure in pop culture, with his motorized wheelchair, head tilted to one side with his hands folded over the wheelchair’s controls and an automated voice that allowed him to communicate his thoughts to the world.
Matt Selman, executive producer of The Simpsons, shared his condolences on Twitter, writing, “Farewell to Stephen Hawking, the most intelligent guest star in the brief history of The Simpsons.”
Farewell to Stephen Hawking, the most intelligent guest star in the brief history of The Simpsons pic.twitter.com/po3fIHgEdh
— Matt Selman (@mattselman) March 14, 2018
Several people took to social media to mourn and commemorate his life, including actress Emmy Rossum, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, Macaulay Culkin and Kumail Nanjiani.
Just sitting here absolutely shattered about Stephen Hawking.
— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) March 14, 2018
I just heard about Stephen Hawking’s passing. He was both a genius and my favorite Simpsons character. We’ll miss you, buddy.
— Macaulay Culkin (@IncredibleCulk) March 14, 2018
RIP Stephen Hawking. Genuinely very sad to hear that. If you haven’t, read A Brief History of Time. It’ll make the world feel more amazing and beautiful and strange. It’ll also make you feel smart and stupid all at once.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) March 14, 2018
Genius is so fine and rare. Goodbye Professor Hawking. You inspired and taught us all. pic.twitter.com/9Drdnv2eEe
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 14, 2018
In 2011, Hawking said he didn’t believe in heaven, likening it to a “fairy story” for people afraid to die.
“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years,” he told The Guardian. “I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail,” he continued. “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”