Stephen Hawking, the British cosmologist famous for his work on black holes and for surviving and thriving with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis for half a century, has died at age 76.
His key discoveries: That the Big Bang started from a singularity (i.e., it was a black hole in reverse); that black holes aren’t totally black but radiate energy and eventually evaporate; and that quantum fluctuations in the early universe could have led to the clumping of galaxies we see today.
On his ALS: “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die,” he wrote in 2010.
On why he lived so long: Partly good care, but mostly sheer luck. “He’s certainly an outlier,” explained an expert on the disease.