‘Rare genius’: the world pays tribute to Prof Stephen Hawking

Nasa tweets the physicist’s theories ‘unlocked the universe of possibilities that we and the world are exploring’

Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has died aged 76. Hawking, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at 21, was famous for his understanding of space and the sub-molecular world of quantum theory. Video: Nasa


Tributes have poured in for Stephen Hawking, the British physicist and author, who has died aged 76

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world wide web, was one of the first to respond to news of his death, saying on Twitter: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit”.

Nasa also tweeted, saying: “his theories unlocked the universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity.”

The Planetary Society said: “farewell to a beautiful mind”, while astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shared a photo of himself and Hawking. “His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake,” he wrote.

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, wrote: “we lost a great one today”.

Many scientists shared their encounters with Prof Hawking over the years. Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell remembered the physicist’s determination to deliver a lecture despite struggling to speak.

Dr Brad Tucker, a research fellow at Mount Stromlo Observatory at the Australian National University, said Prof Hawking was not only “a leader in cosmology and astrophysics, but also pushed us all - to challenge ourselves and the unknown.

“He leaves having inspired many of us and having helped us to tackle the big questions that humans have asked for centuries.”

Greenpeace USA thanked Hawking for helping people understand their place in the universe and for “leaving us in awe and wonder”.

Sean Carroll, a physics professor at US university Caltech, said: “Stephen Hawking was the rare famous scientist who deserved every bit of his fame. A brilliant physicist and an inspirational person. And quite a character.”

US astronaut Chris Hadfield, lamented his death saying: “Genius is so fine and rare. Goodbye Professor Hawking. You inspired us all.” Fellow astronaut Scott Kelly said Hawking’s death was “a loss for all humanity”.

Tributes also came from the entertainment industry. The Foo Fighters said he was a “fucking legend” , while actor Macaulay Culkin paid tribute to “a genius and my favourite Simpsons character”.

Singer Katy Perry noted that Hawking died on Pi Day, the annual celebration of the mathematical constant pi, writing “there’s a big black hole in my heart”.

British TV presenter Jonathan Ross said: “the world just dropped a lot of IQ points.”

As news of Hawking’s death spread, images of an empty wheelchair were shared on social media.–Guardian