World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, a long-time campaigner for LGBT rights, has died aged 76.

The British scientist was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a rare form of motor neurone disease, at 21, and given two years to live.



The condition left him wheelchair-bound, able to speak only with a voice synthesiser, but over the next half-century, Hawking became world-famous as he transformed our understanding of physics.

British theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking gives a lecture during the Starmus Festival on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife on September 23, 2014. AFP PHOTO / DESIREE MARTIN (Photo credit should read DESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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He died peacefully at his Cambridge home in the early hours of this morning, his family said.

In 2012, Hawking called on the government to pardon gay war hero Alan Turing, who was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 after having sex with a man.

Turing was chemically castrated, barred from working for GCHQ, and took his own life at 41-years-old.

In an open letter, Hawking called Turing “one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the modern era” and urged then-Prime Minister David Cameron to “forgive this British hero, to whom we owe so much as a nation, and whose pioneering contribution to computer sciences remains relevant even today.”

BOMBAY, INDIA: World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking answers questions with the help of a voice synthesiser during a press conference at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Bombay, 06 January 2001. Hawking, along with over 300 physicists from across the world, will be attending a conference in String Theory called "String 2001". (FILM) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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A year later, the Queen granted Turing a posthumous pardon.

And last year, the British Government issued a pardon for men convicted of having sex with other men.

The pardon affected around 49,000 men convicted under the law.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 29: Queen Elizabeth II meets Professor Stephen Hawking (R) during a reception for Leonard Cheshire Disability in the State Rooms, St James's Palace on May 29, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Jonathan Brady - Pool / Getty Images)
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Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time is the most successful Sunday Times best-seller of all time, holding top spot for more than five years.

His work with black holes and relativity was revolutionary, and his life was turned into the Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne.

Hawking’s death was met with tributes from all over the world.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08: Eddie Redmayne and Professor Stephen Hawking attend the after party for the EE British Academy Film Awards at The Grosvenor House Hotel on February 8, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
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Tim Berners-Lee, the British inventor of the world wide web, said: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit. Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking.”

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote on Twitter: “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.”

(Twitter/neiltyson)

NASA’s Twitter account wrote: “Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science.

“His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring.

“May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014”.

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Professor James Hartle, who worked with Hawking in exploring and explaining the Big Bang, said he had a “unique” ability to “see through all the clutter in physics,” the BBC has reported.

Hartle said: “My memory of him would be… first our work together as scientists and, second, as a human being whose whole story is a triumph over adversity [and] who inspired a lot of people, including me.”

CAMBRIDGE, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 7: Microsoft President Bill Gates meets Professor Stephen Hawking on a visit to Cambridge University Tuesday October 7, 1997. Microsoft recently announced funding of 50 Million pounds (80 million dlrs US) for a research centre to be based in Cambridge and Bill Gates followed this up with a personal gift of 12 million (19.2 million dlrs US) to the University. (AP Photo/Findlay Kember/Pool) (Photo credit should read FINDLAY KEMBER/AFP/Getty Images)
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In a statement, his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said: “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.”

WASHINGTON, : US President Bill Clinton (L) and Professor Stephen Hawking -- in person and on screen -- watch a scene from "Star Trek the Next Generation", during a "Millennium Evening" at the White House 06 March in Washington DC. Theoretical physicist Hawking talked about the future of science during the live telecast with the Clintons. AFP PHOTO Tim SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Hawking and Clinton (Getty)

They spoke of his “courage and persistence” adding that his “brilliance and humour” inspired people all over the world.

They continued: “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 forever.”




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