False reports of physicist Stephen Hawking's death circulated in 2014 as the result of an Internet hoax. A Facebook page titled "RIP Stephen Hawking" quickly gained over 1 million likes.
Hawking suffers from a slowly progressive form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The life-threatening illness, which first appeared during his student years, has gradually deprived Hawking of most of his motor functions, including the ability to talk. He communicates by using a single cheek muscle to activate a speech-generating device. His tenacity in the face of infirmity has made Hawking a role model for the rights of the disabled.