The Briton died peacefully at his home

Professor Stephen Hawking has died at age 76.

The BBC reports that Stephen Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge on Wednesday morning.

Hawking had from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. At the age of 22, he was only given a few months to live but had gone on to be one of the world’s longest survivors of ALS.

The illness confined him in a wheelchair for much of his adult life and he was largely unable to speak without a voice synthesiser.

Regarded as a genius with a world class mind, Hawking was known for his work with black holes and relativity. He published many popular science books including ‘A Brief History of Time’ in 1988. The book sold over 10 million copies in 40 languages and remained on the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper’s bestseller list for a record 237 weeks.

“To my colleagues, I’m just another physicist, but to the wider public, I became possibly the best-known scientist in the world,” Hawking wrote in his 2013 memoir My Brief History.

“This is partly because scientists, apart from Einstein, are not widely known rock stars, and partly because I fit the stereotype of a disabled genius.”

According to SCMP, Hawking had a strong following in China and Hong Kong. “I like Chinese culture very much and Chinese food as well,” he said in a Q&A session in Beijing. “But I like Chinese women the most. They are very pretty.”

“Chinese are very clever and they are hardworking,” Hawking added. “They are intelligent and there have achieved a lot in science and technology.”

Last year Hawking has spoke to a Hong Kong audience by hologram about technology, politics, entertainment and business.