U.S. Markets close in 5 hrs 25 mins
1 / 26

Aug. 1, 1988

Cambridge Univ. physicist and author Prof. Stephen Hawking inside a lecture hall with math equations on blackboard behind him on Aug. 1, 1988. (Photo: Terry Smith/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Stephen Hawking dies at 76: A look back at the life of the renowned British physicist

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 Wednesday.

Propelled to superstardom by his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time,” which became an unlikely worldwide bestseller, Hawking 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, earning comparisons with Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton.

Born on January 8, 1942 — 300 years to the day after the death of the father of modern science, Galileo Galilei — Stephen William Hawking became one of the world’s most well-regarded scientists and entered the pantheon of science titans.

His death was announced on the 139th anniversary of the birth of Albert Einstein.

Inside the shell of his increasingly useless body was a razor-sharp mind, with an enduring fascination with the mysteries of black holes.

His work focused on bringing together relativity — the nature of space and time — and quantum theory — how the smallest objects behave — to explain the creation of the universe and how it is governed.

“My goal is simple,” he once said. “It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” (AFP)

See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Twitter and Tumblr.