Undoubtedly one of the most recognized and respected scientists of our time, Stephen Hawking has touched millions around the world with his singularly brilliant mind, defiance of a debilitating disease, and inspirational approach to life and happiness. 

His death shook the world, as despite his advanced age, it almost felt inconceivable that such a brilliant mind could cease to exist.

As news of his passing broke, social media was flooded by tribute after tribute, with posts celebrating his groundbreaking work, bravery, sense of humor, intelligence, and love of life.

Diagnosed with the debilitating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease at the age of 21, Hawking defied doctors’ prognoses, refusing to be overcome by his condition, even as his body continued to degrade.

Devoted to understanding the workings of the universe, of time, space, and even the divine, Hawking went on to define some of the most groundbreaking scientific theories not only of our time, but also of the past centuries.

His life story inspired the 2014 Oscar-winning biopic The Theory of Everything. His joie de vivre inspired countless memes and guest appearances on iconic shows such as the Simpsons.

First published in 1988, his book, A Brief History of Time, became an instant bestseller, selling over 10 million copies in the past 20 years in over 30 languages. Hawking’s effortless breakdown of complex notions such as quantum mechanics and general relativity to the average reader transformed him into a pop-culture fixture.

Let us take a moment to remember and celebrate a life that created and gave more than most of us could ever dream of. Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking — you will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.

Check out the touching tributes below and get ready to grab some tissues: