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A star has just gone out; FAREWELL TO A GENIUS: STEPHEN HAWKING, 1942-2018, DIES AGED 76; World hails the most celebrated scientist of his generation.

Byline: LOUIE SMITH

TRIBUTES poured in from around the globe to the world's most celebrated scientist, Professor Stephen Hawking, who died at home early yesterday, aged 76.

The legendary physicist was remembered by leading lights in science, the arts and politics, after his family announced his death.

His children Lucy, 47, Robert, 50, and Tim, 38, paid their own tribute and said: "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.

"His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. 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."

Prof Hawking was struck down with motor neurone disease in 1963 and given two years to live. He defied the doctors' prognosis for more than half a century and became the world's most famous scientist, building an incredible scientific legacy, while confined to a wheelchair and reliant on a voice synthesiser to communicate. His 1988 bestseller A Brief History of Time, sold more than 10 million copies in 20 years.

Twice married and divorced, Hawking was known for his colourful personal life and mischievous sense of humour. Eddie Redmayne, 36, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, said: "We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet."

Benedict Cumberbatch, 41, who starred as the professor in the BBC film, Hawking, said: "I feel so lucky to have known such a truly great man" Former US President Barack Obama wrote: "Have fun out there among the stars."

Hawking refused to be limited by disability. He wrote: "In my dreams I'm always able-bodied. Either I don't want to admit to myself I'm disabled or I feel that by will alone, I can overcome it."

Former PA Judith Croasdell, 69, who worked with Hawking for 10 years, outlined his view on death.

Speaking yesterday, she said: "Stephen felt the human mind was just like a computer and that some day the computer would be turned off.

"He told me that he never regarded himself as disabled because he was free and liberated by his thoughts."

She nicknamed the scientist "The Hawk" or "Old Rogue" and said: "He could be a naughty fellow and was a fighter, gung-ho in everything he did.

"But he was also very devoted to his grandchildren, he was thrilled he had three and that's a side of him most people never saw."

Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease while studying at Oxford. By the late 1970s, he was confined to a wheelchair, with only family members able to understand his speech. He later communicated through his voice synthesiser, first controlling it with his fingers, and then with blinks and facial twitches.

Friends said in recent years communication became so slow sentences would take 30 minutes to "translate".

In spite of his disabilities, Hawking developed a theory of cosmology as a union of relativity and quantum mechanics and discovered black holes leaked energy, a phenomenon dubbed "Hawking radiation".

In the late 1990s, he turned down a knighthood in protest at the lack of Government funding for science. He never got the Nobel Prize, as many of lost a beautiful mind astonishing his theories are scientifically unproven. Professor Brian Cox paid tribute saying: "in a thousand years' time, [physicists] will still be talking about Hawking radiation, they will be using his fundamental results on black holes.

"There are many good theoretical physicists who make a big contribution, but there aren't that many greats." Hawking, who lived in a PS1.5million house in Cambridge, was in The Simpsons, Star Trek, and The Big Bang Theory and his voice was sampled by truly Pink Floyd. But his fame placed strain on his relationships, leading to his divorce in 1995 from first wife Jane, with whom he had his three children.

"The peace that he has found is well earned after such an extraordinary and courageous life." After their divorce, Hawking married his nurse Elaine Mason. In 2004, carers accused her of subjecting the scientist to abuse. The police investigation did not result in charges, but they divorced in 2006.

Elaine, 68, yesterday described Hawking as the "love of my life". She added: "He was an amazing man."

Hawking spent 50 years in Cambridge and a book of condolence was opened at Gonville and Caius College, which flew a flag at half mast. Prof Sir Alan Fersht, Master of Gonville and Caius, said: "His family warned us before Christmas that he looked to be going downhill quite rapidly."

Astrophysicist Prof Matthew Colless, who was taught by Hawking, recalled how he wheeled around the low dais as he delivered pre-recorded lectures.

He said: "Once, he rolled too far and his wheelchair tipped over the edge, depositing him on the floor. When the lecture re-started he announced, in that instantly recognisable voice, 'I fell off the edge of the world'."

Mock the Week host Dara O'Briain, 46, who studied theoretical physics, made a documentary about his hero Hawking in 2015. He said: "He was a triumph of what we, as humans, can achieve. I asked him once, 'How have you lived so long?' And he said, 'How can I die, when I have so much of the Universe left to explore?' "So I said, 'Can I put that answer on a T-shirt? I promise to split the proceeds 50-50', and he weighed his answer and said, '80-20'."

louie.smith@mirror.co.uk

Theories went with a Big Bang

THE SCIENCE

THE Big Bang concept existed before Hawking, but he explained how it would have created the universe in practice.

He said that after it, galaxies were created by gravitational forces which made matter clump together.

Hawking realised the Big Bang was like the collapse of a black hole in reverse and he showed how tiny particles would react on the edge of a black hole to produce "Hawking radiation".

Hawking's lasting gift to mankind was to bring together several ideas from pioneers such as Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.

He worked towards the elusive "Theory of Everything" and to combine two key theories of physics - quantum theory and Einstein's general theory of relativity.

We're monkeys but so special his quotes

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.

Life would be tragic if it weren't funny.

What is your IQ? No idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers.

Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up.

If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.

Champion who took on Hunt

NHS BACKING

STEPHEN Hawking was a lifelong NHS supporter and an opponent of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The professor believed he owed his longevity to care from doctors and nurses at NHS hospitals.

Two months ago campaigners he backed won permission to challenge in court plans to let private firms play a greater role in the NHS. Hawking called them an "attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS".

The Labour voter had a history of disputes with Hunt and in August called his plans "silly".

In 2016 Hawking joined experts calling for an inquiry into claims Hunt had caused "a devastating breakdown of trust" with medics.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told of Hawking's "breathtaking courage" and "burning passion to protect our NHS".

From robot box to twitch specs

THE VOICE

MORE than half a century battling motor neurone disease left Hawking unable to speak without the help of a voice box.

His instantly recognizable retrorobotic voice became his signature. After having an emergency tracheotomy in 1986, he used a computer program called The Equalizer to explain his complex ideas to the world.

Initially, he selected words on a computer with a hand-held device.

As his body deteriorated, he used hi-tech glasses which sensed when he twitched his cheek.

His screen had a constantly moving cursor and he twitched when it was over the correct letter.

Owen Dunn, of Cambridge University, who maintained the wheelchair and voice machine, said: "If he misses it, he has to wait for the cursor to come back around again. He must have the patience of a saint."

We have lost a truly beautiful mind and astonishing scientist EDDIE REDMAYNE ACTOR ON DEATH OF PHYSICIST

CAPTION(S):

AWARD With President Obama

GONG With Oscar winner Redmayne

FIRST CLASS Graduating from Oxford in 1962

last pic In London's Mayfair before Christmas

WIFE ONE Married Jane Wilde in 1965

WIFE TWO Wed his nurse Elaine Mason in 1995

BRAIN POWER Professor Hawking at work in 2013

ACADEMIC Hawking in 1979 on visit to Princeton University, USA

TODDLER With aunt Muriel on VE Day, May 1945
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 15, 2018
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