World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76 - more than 50 years after he was given just two years to live.

The celebrated scientist passed away peacefully at his home in Cambridge on Wednesday morning (14 March) after a long battle with motor neurone disease, his family confirmed.

His children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement that they were " deeply saddened" by the loss of their father who they described as a "great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years"

They praised his "courage and persistence" and said his "brilliance and humour" inspired people across the world.

They added: "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".

Professor Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, a degenerative disease that damages the nervous system and muscles, at the age of 21. Even though he was expected only to live a few years he has defied expectations. He has been long celebrated for being a talented cosmologist throughout his illustrious career.

While his debilitating neurological condition meant he was trapped in his own body, he used every opportunity to remind the world of his brilliant mind with wise cracks, memorable words and his insights into the mysteries of the universe.

Here are some of the most memorable quotes delivered through his famous voice synthesiser.

On fame:

"The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away" - Interview on Israeli TV, December 2006

On God:

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going" - From The Grand Design in 2010

On artificial intelligence:

"The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race" - BBC Interview 2014

Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking attends the launch of "Speak to Me", an exhibition which explores the role of new technologies in improving communication for the disabled on 4 October 1993 Dylan Martinez/Reuters

On being diagnosed with ALS

"My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus. Life would be tragic if it weren't funny"- New York Times interview 2004.

On greed:

"We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet."

On women:

"Women. They are a complete mystery."- New Scientist magazine interview 2012

On the reason why the universe exists:

"If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God" - A Brief History Of Time, published 1988

On life:

"However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope," he told Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2006.