Stephen Hawking, Barack Obama

The great physicist, cosmetologist, author and genius Stephen Hawking passed away early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

Hawking, left, is pictured receiving the Congressional Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, from former U.S. President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on August 12, 2009.

Hawking is the brain behind the groundbreaking book about relativity, black holes, and the cosmos. His knowledge about the mysteries of deep space inspired children around the world.

Hawking lost his mobility due to a battle with the rare neurological condition Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which left him confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak in his 20s.

One of his most memorable quotes is, “Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.”

His obsession with death and dying led him to search the cosmos for the answer to longevity. Before he died he issued a final warning to humanity to leave earth in 200 years or face extinction.

His bestselling book, A Brief History of Time, which was published in 1988, has sold more than 10 million copies and spawned a documentary, in which Hawking starred.

His works inspired American astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson who was among the first people to pay tribute to Hawking, stating:

“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.”

He is survived by three adult children — Lucy, Robert, and Tim, who released a statement, which reads:

“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. 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.”

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images