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World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.

“He died peacefully at his home in the British university city of Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday.

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement.

Hawking’s formidable mind probed the very limits of human understanding both in the vastness of space and in the bizarre sub-molecular world of quantum theory, which he said could predict what happens at the beginning and end of time.

His work ranged from the origins of the universe, through the tantalizing prospect of time travel to the mysteries of space’s all-consuming black holes.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” his family said. “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world.”

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A 2014 film, The Theory of Everything, with Eddie Redmayne playing Hawking, charted the onset of his illness and his early life as the brilliant student grappling with black holes and the concept of time.

May his soul rest in gentle peace.

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