Stephen Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death and died on the same day Albert Einstein was born

Stephen Hawking died today – on the anniversary of Albert Einstein's birth in 1879 – in a strange coincidence linking the two brilliant minds.

In another stunning turn of events he was born on January 8, 1942, on the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death.

Galileo made great leaps in mathematics and discovered much more about space – paving the way for greater understanding of the stars.

Professor Hawking joined both these men in furthering our knowledge of the world around us, and following his death aged 76 many commented on the significance of his birth and death days.

March 14 is also celebrated as Pi Day, which honours the ratio of a the circumference of a circle to its diameter, bringing yet another scientific link to the professor's life.

The English physicist who changed the way we understand the universe, wrote A Brief History of Time and was the subject of Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything, died peacefully at home in Cambridge in the early hours of this morning.

He was considered a medical marvel, having lived for more than half a century after being given two years to live when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963.

In a statement, his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said: "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 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.' We will miss him forever."

Tributes have poured in from some of the greatest minds in modern science.

Canadian space explorer, Chris Hadfield, posted on Twitter: "Genius is so fine and rare. Goodbye Professor Hawking. You inspired and taught us all."

Professor Brian Cox also paid tribute to the genius, writing: "Sad to hear about Stephen Hawking. What a remarkable life."

A Brief History of Time – published in 1988 – made him a household name, explaining complex scientific theories to the masses.

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