(CNN)Stephen Hawking, the brilliant British theoretical physicist who overcame a debilitating disease to publish wildly popular books probing the mysteries of the universe, has died, according to a family spokesman. He was 76.
Considered by many to be the world’s greatest living scientist, Hawking was also a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and author of numerous books including the landmark “A Brief History of Time,” which has sold more than 10 million copies.
With fellow physicist Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes. Hawking also discovered that black holes were not completely black but emit radiation and would likely eventually evaporate and disappear.
“A star just went out in the cosmos,” Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, wrote on Twitter. “We have lost an amazing human being.”