Hawking was one of humanity's most important scientists and leaves behind an ongoing project to send a small spacecraft to Earth's closest star system.
Image: Lwp Kommunikáció/Flickr
Stephen Hawking, one of the most well-known scientists of all time, died early Wednesday morning at his home in Cambridge, England, according to his family. He was 76.
Hawking was known for his work in theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics as well as for his penchant for making bets with other scientists, predictions about the future of humanity, extraterrestrials, and artificial intelligence, and his sense of humor.
"He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years," his children said in a statement.
Hawking was diagnosed with early-onset ALS in 1963 at the age of 21. He was given two years to live. Instead, he went on to become one of the most important and best-known scientists of the 20th and 21st centuries. The text-to-speech software he used to communicate became open-source in 2015. The scientist regularly warned about the potential dangers of meeting aliens, as well as the dangers of artificial intelligence.
The scientist says he once threw a party for time travelers, but sent the invitations after the party: "I sat there a long time, but nobody came," he said.
Hawking's latest project, a plan to send a tiny chip to Alpha Centauri, is called Breakthrough Starshot. It proposes to use lasers to power tiny nanocrafts to Earth's nearest star system, which is roughly 4.37 light years away.
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