World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76, his family confirmed through a spokesperson early Wednesday. The scientist, a defining force in the field of cosmology, claimed a slew of awards throughout his career. He was diagnosed with the motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the age of 21. His 1988 book A Brief History of Time catapulted him to fame with its stunning overview of how the universe came to be, and his work on black holes left an indelible imprint on the field of cosmology. He died at his home in Cambridge early Wednesday morning. “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” his children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim said in a statement.