The University of Cambridge has announced that famed and accomplished theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking died. Hawking passed peacefully at his home, also in Cambridge, on March 14, at the age of 76.

Both influential and celebrated throughout his career in science, Hawking was born in Oxford in 1942. He was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) when he was 21, while studying for his doctorate at the University of Cambridge. Despite the steady advance of the disease, which eventually robbed him of his capacity for mobility and speech, Hawking followed an active career in theoretical physics, making groundbreaking predictions that linked quantum theory with the functioning of black holes, and publishing his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, in 1988.

At a conference held in celebration of his 75th birthday, Hawking expressed that "It has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research into theoretical physics. Our picture of the Universe has changed a great deal in the last 50 years, and I’m happy if I’ve made a small contribution." He also expressed that he wanted to spread his passion and joy of unlocking the secrets of the universe with the rest of humanity.

"I want to share my excitement and enthusiasm about this quest. So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder 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."