'An extraordinary man' - World-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76

World-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking has died aged 76 according to a statement from his family.

His family has released a statement giving the sad news this afternoon, where they call him "an extraordinary man".

Professor Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement: "We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.

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"He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.

"His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

"He once said, 'It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love," the statement reads.

Hawking was born in England in 1942 and is perhaps most famous for his 1988 book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, which inspired millions world-wide to look up to the heavens.

His life was also made into a blockbuster movie in 2014 called The Theory of Everything.

Hawking suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that gradually paralysed him over the decades.

A specially designed computer attached to his wheelchair allowed him to speak using a single cheek muscle once the slow moving paralysis had fully taken hold.