Renowned British physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s finest scientific minds, has died at the age of 76, a family spokesman said.
He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
In a statement, his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said: “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 humour 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.”
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was one of the first to pay tribute to Professor Stephen Hawking following his death aged 76.
Sharing a photo of himself and Prof Hawking on Twitter, he said: “His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018.”
Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said Prof Hawking was “an inspiration to us all, whatever our station in life, to reach for the stars”.
He tweeted: “RIP Sir, You epitomised true courage over adversity as you explained the wonders of the universe to the world. Your achievements symbolise the pwr of the human mind.
“An inspiration to us all, whatever our station in life, to reach for the stars-from where you now shine down on us.”
Actor Macaulay Culkin described Prof Hawking as a “genius”, adding that the physicist was also his favourite Simpsons character.
He tweeted: “I just heard about Stephen Hawking’s passing. He was both a genius and my favorite Simpsons character. We’ll miss you, buddy.”
Greenpeace USA thanked Prof Hawking for helping people understand their place in the universe and for “leaving us in awe and wonder”.
Musicians also paid tribute, with KT Tunstall tweeting: “Wow. What a life. What an extraordinary Human Being. Enjoy the cosmos Stephen Hawking, the biggest and most mysterious adventure that we all get to go on one day... RIP #genius.”
Sean Carroll, a physics professor at US university Caltech, said: “Stephen Hawking was the rare famous scientist who deserved every bit of his fame. A brilliant physicist and an inspirational person. And quite a character.”
Jonathan Ross lamented that humankind was significantly down on intelligence points following Prof Hawking’s death.
“RIP Stephen Hawking. The world just dropped a lot of IQ points. And, he was a fun person. Very sad news,” the presenter tweeted.
The Twitter page for US TV show The Big Bang Theory tweeted a picture of the cast with Prof Hawking, who starred as himself in several episodes of the sitcom.
The tweet said: “In loving memory of Stephen Hawking. It was an honor to have him on The #BigBangTheory. Thank you for inspiring us and the world.”
Pop superstar Katy Perry said “there’s a big black hole in my heart” following Prof Hawking’s death.
Actor Kumail Nanjiani, who was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay he co-wrote with his wife Emily V Gordon about her chronic illness, also paid tribute.
He said he was “very sad” to learn of his passing and urged fans to 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,” he added.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Prof Hawking had “made the world a better place” and that his death was “anguishing”.
“Professor Stephen Hawking was an outstanding scientist and academic. His grit and tenacity inspired people all over the world,” a tweet on his page said.
“His demise is anguishing. Professor Hawking’s pioneering work made our world a better place. May his soul rest in peace.”
Nasa remembered Prof Hawking as a “renowned physicist and ambassador of science”.
“His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014,” the organisation tweeted.
Inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, tweeted: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit. Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking.”
European Council president Donald Tusk tweeted: “’It matters if you just don’t give up.’ Remembering Stephen Hawking.”
British astronaut Tim Peake said Prof Hawking “inspired generations to look beyond our own blue planet and expand our understanding of the universe”.
“His personality and genius will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with his family,” he wrote on Twitter.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Prof Hawking had “changed the way we see the universe”.
Physicist James Hartle, whose work with Prof Hawking led to the Hartle-Hawking model of the universe’s origins, said his colleague had “inspired a lot of people”.
Prof Hartle told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “What was unique about him was that he had a marvellous ability to see through all the clutter in physics and to see what the essential points are and that, of course, was a great thing for going forward.”
He added: “My memory of him would be on several fronts: first our work together, as a scientist, and second as a human being whose whole story is of triumph over adversity and who inspired a lot of people, including me.”
Scientist and broadcaster Professor Brian Cox tweeted: “Sad to hear about Stephen Hawking. What a remarkable life.
“His contributions to science will be used as long as there are scientists, and there are many more scientists because of him. He spoke about the value and fragility of human life and civilisation and greatly enhanced both.”
Astronomer Royal Professor Lord Martin Rees, who is emeritus professor of cosmology and astrophysics at the University of Cambridge, said: “Tragedy struck Stephen Hawking when he was only 22. He was diagnosed with a deadly disease, and his expectations dropped to zero.
“He himself said that everything that happened since then was a bonus. And what a triumph his life has been.
“His name will live in the annals of science; millions have had their cosmic horizons widened by his best-selling books; and even more, around the world, have been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds - a manifestation of amazing will-power and determination.”