Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking, whose mental genius and physical disability made him a household name and inspiration across the globe, has died at age 76, his family said on Wednesday.

Hawking, whose 1988 book “A Brief History of Time” became an unlikely worldwide bestseller and cemented his superstar status, dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe.

His genius and wit won over fans from far beyond the rarified world of astrophysics.

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” professor Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim said in a statement carried by Britain’s Press Association news agency.

One of his most famous quotes was – “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”

Hawking is the author of the 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, a best-seller that has sold over 10 million copies.

His life was portrayed in James Marsh’s The Theory Of Everything (2014). Actor Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his performance as the young Hawking who is diagnosed with a motor neurone disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) in 1963 and given two years to live.

Celebrities from the Hindi film industry from Farhan Akhtar, Sujoy Ghosh to Kajal Aggarwal mourned Hawking’s death and took to Twitter to celebrate his life and contributions to the world of science.

In 2014 a film was made on the iconic personality, titled – The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne stepped into play Stephen Hawking himself. The movie also starred Felicity Jones.

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