LONDON — Many around the world awoke Wednesday to the news that Stephen Hawking, the groundbreaking theoretical physicist, had died at the age of 76.

The pioneering British scientist passed away peacefully at his home in Cambridge, eastern England, early Wednesday, his family said in a statement.

Hawking arrived as a PhD student at the University of Cambridge in 1962 and in 1979, went on to become the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics — a role held in the 17th century by Isaac Newton, who devised the theory of gravity.

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The University of Cambridge was one of the first to pay tribute to its alumnus, who explained his complex ideas to the public in books including his 1988 bestseller, A Brief History of Time.

“Professor Hawking broke new ground on the basic laws which govern the universe, including the revelation that black holes have a temperature and produce radiation, now known as Hawking radiation,” the university said in a statement.

“He achieved all this despite a decades-long battle with motor neurone disease, with which he was diagnosed while a student,” the statement added. “His determination in battling with his condition made him a champion for those with a disability around the world.”

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As well as enthralling the world with his brilliant mind, Hawking famously guest-starred on a 2012 episode of the hit TV show The Big Bang Theory. The episode, titled The Hawking Excitation, featured Sheldon (played by Jim Parsons) yearning to finally meet his idol.

These are some of the other tributes that flooded in as news of Hawking’s death reverberated around the world:




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