It may be a cliché to describe someone as an inspiration, but there is no title more befitting for the late Stephen Hawking.
The British theoretical physicist died early Wednesday morning aged 76, after a lifetime awing scientists and the public alike with his brilliance, wit, and his encouragement to investigate the universe around us.
One of the world’s most beloved scientists and a prolific authors, Hawking leaves the world with his pioneering work on black holes and relativity, as well as quintessential science books like his bestseller, A Brief History of Time.
Hawking also inspired people with a disability. At 21, he was diagnosed with ALS, where doctors gave him two years to live. Hawking lived on for another 55 years, where he frequently made appearances in popular culture, from The Simpsons to The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Fellow physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said Hawking’s death “left an intellectual vacuum.”
His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018. pic.twitter.com/nAanMySqkt
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 14, 2018
Astronauts Scott Kelly and Chris Hadfield also saluted Hawking.
As did Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai.
The world has lost a beautiful mind and a brilliant scientist. RIP Stephen Hawking
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) March 14, 2018
Tributes extended from the world of pop culture, with posts from the likes of pop star Katy Perry, Simpsons writer/producer Al Jean and comedian Kumail Nanjiani. Nyle DiMarco, the first deaf winner of America’s Next Top Model, said Hawking’s life was a testament to disability not being inability.
A testament that disability is not “inability” and that people with disabilities can achieve anything they set their minds to.
— Nyle DiMarco (@NyleDiMarco) March 14, 2018
there’s a big black hole in my heart hours before Pi day. Rest In Peace @Steven_Hawking… See you in the next ❤️
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) March 14, 2018
RIP Stephen Hawking. Genuinely very sad to hear that. If you haven’t, read A Brief History of Time. It’ll make the world feel more amazing and beautiful and strange. It’ll also make you feel smart and stupid all at once.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) March 14, 2018
I rarely cry at the death of people I don’t know personally, but the announcement of the passing of Stephen Hawking just brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful genius this earth has lost.
— Dana Goldberg (@DGComedy) March 14, 2018