Professor Stephen Hawking, possibly the greatest man modern science has known has passed away aged 76.

Hawking’s family confirmed releasing a statement from the family home in Cambridge, UK in the early hours of Wednesday (local time).

His children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement: “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. 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 for ever.”

Stephen Hawking started looking into the history of mankind’s thinking regarding the Universe starting from the ancient Greeks through to the work of Galileo, Newton, Einstein and more, helping develop modern cosmology, inspiring billions of people.

He was born Stephen William Hawking on 8 January 1942 in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England. At a young age, he developed a rare early-onset, slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that gradually paralysed him over the decades.

He was still able to communicate effectively and work, using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device.