Today the world mourns the loss of one of the greatest physicists who ever lived. Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76 this week, and while all will be deeply saddened, his greatest achievement was indeed living more than fifty years beyond his life expectancy with ALS.

Stephen Hawking at the Pride of Britain AwardsStephen Hawking at the Pride of Britain Awards

Famous for his trailblazing theories on black holes, the cosmologist and Cambridge alumnus died peacefully in the early hours of today (March 14th 2018) following a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neurone disease. His family confirmed the news in a statement.

'We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today', Lucy, Robert and Tim Hawking said. '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 for ever.'

While his work on black holes, general relativity and quantum mechanics earned him multiple awards and honours, it was his puckish sense of humour, infinite charm and unceasing energy that earned him popularity amongst the non-scientific community.

His debut book 'A Brief History of Time', published in 1988, became an international best-seller for its ability to grasp audiences with no prior knowledge of theoretical physics. He even co-wrote a series of children's fiction with his daughter Lucy and he's made numerous appearances in works of popular culture including 'Red Dwarf', 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', 'The Big Bang Theory', 'Futurama' and 'The Simpsons'.

In 2014, he was portrayed on the big screen by Eddie Redmayne in Academy Award winning 'The Theory of Everything', in which the actor was praised for his dedicated representation of Hawking's declining health against his inimitable genius. 

Speaking of which, it was his battle with Lou Gehrig's disease - that ultimately left him almost completely paralysed - which was most inspiring to the world. Not only did he exceed the life expectancy given to him by doctors at the age of 21, but he was able to communicate his ideas and break new ground with nothing but a speech-generating device - a machine that gave him his famous robotic American accent that he would never update as it became more and more ingrained in his identity.

More: Stephen Hawking in hilarious Red Nose Day 2017 sketch

He will forever be remembered as a man who changed the world of science, supported the underdog with fierce passion, and used his humour and zest for life to continue to achieve the impossible.