Hawking is Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge.
Although he has been in the job since 1979, Hawking became an international figure through his best-selling 1988 book on cosmology, "A Brief History Of Time", which examines complex concepts like the Big Bang and black holes.
It was followed in 2001 by another book, "The Universe In A Nutshell", television documentary appearances and even cameos in popular television shows like "The Simpsons" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation".
He has received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) as well as a string of honorary degrees.
Hawking has always insisted he is determined not to let his physical condition get in the way of his work.
"I try to lead as normal a life as possible and not think about my condition or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many," he once said.
Arizona State University in the United States announced earlier this month that Hawking had cancelled a planned appearance on April 5 because he was recovering from a chest infection and doctors had advised him not to fly.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the Discovery Channel would screen "Stephen Hawking's Universe", a new three-part special exploring the nature of the cosmos to be screened in 2010.
The New Straits Times