Stephen Hawking's official death certificate has been released, revealing that his cause of death was Neurone Disease.
Hawking, one of the world's foremost theoretical physicists, suffered from Neurone Disease for most of his life. It is an early-onset form of ALS, which is relatively rare. According to the death certificate, which was obtained first by TMZ, the disease was the primary cause of his death.
Neurone Disease did not begin to affect Hawking until he was nearly done with his undergraduate studies. He got an official diagnosis in 1963 at the age of 21. His doctors only expected him to live two years with his condition.
Over the years, Hawking became one of the most iconic contemporary scientists. He did groundbreaking work in cosmology and theoretical physics throughout his life, and wrote a number of best-selling books. He also became a cultural icon, representing the triumph of brain over brawn and the idea that differently-abled people have so much more to offer when they are given a chance.
Later in his life, Hawking's celebrity status put him on shows like The Big Bang Theory. After his death, he was mourned by celebrities like Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki and Eddie Redmayne.
Hawking passed away on March 14. He was 76 years old — more than 50 years older than his doctors ever expected him to be.
While he is remembered as a symbol of hope for many, some of his final work left bleak predictions for the future of humankind.
Hawking's final research paper was submitted just two weeks before his death. He and his co-author, Thomas Hertog, offered predictions on how the universe would finally come to an end.
The paper is titled "A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation." It proposes a means to detect the existence of a multiverse for certain, using a device affixed to a spaceship. Hawking has been pushing the idea of a multiverse since 1983, believing that the "big bang" which created our universe was part of a chain reaction, and other big bangs have created their own parallel universes in turn.
Hawking believed that each of those unvierses operated with a finite amount of energy, and eventually the entire thing will go dark when that energy is used up.
As for humanity itself, Hawking felt certain that the earth would be reduced to a ball of fire within 600 years. In November, he spoke at the Tencent WE Summit in Beijing, beggin investors to support projects that will eventually send humans to a nearby inhabitable solar system called Alpha Centauri.