Hawking was diagnosed with an early-onset form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was 21 — a condition that left him paralyzed.
Nevertheless, the British-born scientist gained worldwide recognition for his groundbreaking theories about black holes, and brought his complex work to the masses with his best-selling book A Brief History of Time (published in 1988).
Hawking's ability to bridge the gap between physics and pop culture was demonstrated with guest appearances on shows like Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons. He was also the subject of the 2014 film The Theory of Everything; Eddie Redmayne received a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking.
As such, it's hardly surprising that Redmayne is amongst the celebrities paying tribute to Hawking this morning. "We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet," the actor said in a statement. "My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family."
Many others have taken to social media to praise the late great mind. See a selection of those homages below.
Genius is so fine and rare. Goodbye Professor Hawking. You inspired and taught us all. pic.twitter.com/9Drdnv2eEe— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 14, 2018
there's a big black hole in my heart hours before Pi day. Rest In Peace @Steven_Hawking... See you in the next ❤️— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) March 14, 2018
Once had privilege of meeting genius Stephen Hawking. We had so much in common. Same first name. Both been in The Big Bang Theory. So much.— Stephen Merchant (@StephenMerchant) March 14, 2018
"Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet" - RIP Stephen Hawking you fucking legend.— Foo Fighters (@foofighters) March 14, 2018
#RIPStephenHawking Condolences to your family who are super cool. I'll be forever grateful to @Google for hooking us up. You had the best sense of humor though I had to wait for the punchlines. #puregenius #love @nilerodgers and @WeAreFamilyFdtn pic.twitter.com/kJxPqQIbW6— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) March 14, 2018
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. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018. pic.twitter.com/nAanMySqkt— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 14, 2018
We are saddened to report the passing of Dr. Stephen Hawking - one of the world's greatest scientific minds. #StarTrek #StephenHawking #RIP #StarTrekRemembers https://t.co/W60NrgQK9T pic.twitter.com/A9voKqbuvX— Star Trek (@StarTrek) March 14, 2018
Farewell to Stephen Hawking, the most intelligent guest star in the brief history of The Simpsons pic.twitter.com/po3fIHgEdh— Matt Selman (@mattselman) March 14, 2018
RIP— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) March 14, 2018
Thank you for sharing your heart, mind and endless imagination. Safe travels across the staticky waves of time. You have enlightened this temporary dimension in a most forever way. You helped.
"The universe doesn't allow perfection."
A Brief History of Time pic.twitter.com/bPHnvzX4oH
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge"— Courtney Love Cobain (@Courtney) March 14, 2018
RIP Stephen Hawking
When I read "A Brief History of Time" I understood the world a little better. Thank you, you're an incredible human. #ripStephenHawking— The Darcys (@itsthedarcys) March 14, 2018
Rest In Peace Stephen Hawking. Thank you for sort of explaining quantum physics in layman's terms. I almost got it. You are a true treasure of humanity.— Monster Truck (@Monster_Truck_) March 14, 2018
RIP Stephen Hawking. Genuinely very sad to hear that. If you haven't, read A Brief History of Time. It'll make the world feel more amazing and beautiful and strange. It'll also make you feel smart and stupid all at once.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) March 14, 2018
Peace and love Stephen Hawkins peace and love. 😎✌️🌟💖🥦🎵🎶🌺☮️ pic.twitter.com/1KN5O5eIPn— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) March 14, 2018