Professor Stephen Hawking has died, aged 76

His family confirmed that he had died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Courtesy: Brisbane Times

Scientist and author Stephen Hawking has died aged 76. 

His family confirmed that he had died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning. 

His children Lucy, Robert and Tim issued a statement: “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. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. 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.”

Last year, he argued that we should prepare for a cosmic exodus to take place in the next 200 to 500 years. 

“We are running out of space, and the only place we can go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems,” he said via video link to the audience gathered in Trondheim, Norway.

“Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”

In March last year, he said he no longer felt welcome in the United States, now that President Donald Trump was in power.

“The reaction to the election of Donald Trump may have been overdone, but it represents a definite swing to a right-wing, more authoritarian approach,” Hawking said about the negative response to Trump’s election.

Of the United States, he said: “I have many friends and colleagues there, and it is still a place I like and admire in many ways. But I fear that I may not be welcome.”

Leading up to the US presidential election, Hawking was cheekily asked whether he could explain Trump’s rise to presidential candidacy. 

“I can’t,” Hawking said. “He’s a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”

Asked now about that statement, Hawking elaborated on Trump’s victory and his first two months in office.

“Trump was elected by people who felt disenfranchised by the governing elite in a revolt against globalisation,” Hawking said.