One of the world's greatest scientific minds has now left this dimension. British cosmologist and physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, some 55 years after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at 21 and given two years to live. Family members say Hawking died peacefully early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England, the BBC reports. "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," children Lucy, Robert, and Tim said in a statement, per Sky. "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."
Hawking, born in 1942, was known for his groundbreaking research on black holes and the origins of the universe. Books like best-seller A Brief History of Time made him what the AP calls "one of science's biggest celebrities since Albert Einstein," appearing on shows including The Simpsons and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Signs of his illness—also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease—appeared during his first year of graduate school. He lost what remained of his voice in 1985. "I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years," he told the Guardian in a 2010 interview. "I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first." (Last year, he warned that humans are becoming "cosmic sloths.")