PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This week, the world lost one of its most famous scientific minds when Stephen Hawking died at the age of 76. Confined to a wheelchair and forced to use a machine to speak, he remained undeterred by ALS.

Even more, he helped all of us non-scientists understand our universe a little bit better.

At times even Stephen Hawking himself seemed surprised by his success.

Hawking’s work centered on the origins of the universe–black holes, the big bang, space and time.

“He really was very much like the Einstein of the era,” said Derrick Pitts, the chief astronomer with the Franklin Institute.

Even more, he could explain these complicated ideas in uncomplicated ways.

“I think the way in which he opened the door to a better understanding about the very earliest history of the universe is something that has totally altered our understanding of how the universe works,” Pitts said.

Remarkable, a man so bound by gravity, confined to a wheelchair would be the one to discover so much about our universe.

After all that research probing some of the deepest questions in science, he famously advised to “remember, look at the stars and not at your feet.”

A physicist’s reminder the world is an enormous place with many lessons to offer and plenty of wonders to appreciate if we pay attention.