British physicist Stephen W. Hawking, whose theory of black holes altered the course of modern scientific thought, and whose ability to convey abstract concepts of quantum physics to a mass audience made him a popular cultural figure, has died today at the age of 76 in his home at Cambridge. His age at his death was one of the many marvels of a life full of them.
Diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at age 21, Hawking was told that he would live no more than three years. Hawking defied his doctors’ predictions by adding over 51 years to his predicted lifespan.
During this time, Hawking not only made new discoveries in his field, but also exposed these ideas to an audience far beyond academic circles. He did so while disease continued to debilitate his body.
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