"Hawking shot to worldwide fame after the 1988 publication of "A Brief History of Time", one of the most complex books ever to achieve mass appeal, which stayed on the Sunday Times best-sellers list for no fewer than 237 weeks.
"Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking".
As a teenager he had enjoyed horse-riding and rowing but while at Cambridge he was diagnosed with a form of motor neurone disease which was to leave him nearly completely paralysed.
As a 15-year-old, his most successful book A Brief History of Time had me captivated with relativity and quantum theory.
But the disease progressed more slowly than expected.
Bousso, now at the University of California at Berkeley, recalls how he had to learn to shake off his awe and relax around Hawking. It sold 10 million copies and was translated into 40 different languages.
Hawking first earned prominence for his theoretical work on black holes. He was renowned for his extraordinary capacity to visualise scientific solutions without calculation or experiment.
A family spokesman said he died peacefully at his home in the city of Cambridge where he worked for decades as the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. "Where is it going and will it have an end?" "We have lost an incredible human being".
Hawking's celebrity status was acknowledged even by The Simpsons - he was depicted drinking at a bar with Homer, suggesting he might steal Homer's idea that the universe is shaped like a doughnut.
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The rock group Pink Floyd used his distinctive synthesised voice for the introduction to Keep Talking, on their 1994 album The Division Bell.
Newton was a previous holder of that prestigious post.
The combination of his best-selling book and his nearly total disability - for a while he could use a few fingers, later he could only tighten the muscles on his face - made him one of science's most recognizable faces. Hawking first realized that something was wrong when he went ice skating with his mother one day, he recalled in a speech on his 75th birthday celebration previous year. He may have injured himself multiple times while riding his electric wheelchair as he visited the emergency department at Addenbrooke's Hospital multiple times. "At first I became depressed".
Instead, he said he wanted to show that disability was no bar to achievement and to encourage interest in space, where he believed humankind's destiny lay.
"We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. I therefore want to encourage public interest in space".
His early life was chronicled in the 2014 film "The Theory of Everything", with Eddie Redmayne winning the best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of the scientist.
There are few scientists who reach as far into popular culture as Stephen Hawking did.
In a series for the Discovery Channel, he said it was perfectly rational to assume there was intelligent life elsewhere but warned that aliens might just raid earth of its resources and then move on.
Although the disease would take the majority of his motor and vocal functions, he would still go on to live a long life driven by science and family.