Benedict Cumberbatch leads tributes at Stephen Hawking's memorial service

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Benedict Cumberbatch leads tributes at Stephen Hawking's memorial service

The voice of Stephen Hawking has been beamed into space with a message of peace and hope as the British physicist, who gained global acclaim for his work on black holes, was laid to rest during a service at London's Westminster Abbey.

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, left, and his wife Sophie Hunter arrive at a memorial service for Hawking at Westminster Abbey in London on Friday.

Flowers are placed alongside the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey.

As part of the ceremony, a recording of Hawking's words was set to music by Vangelis, the Greek composer who created the theme music for the 1981 film "Chariots of Fire".

At the service, Hawking's ashes will be interred between fellow British scientists Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

The European Space Agency plans to beam it from its satellite dish in Cebreros, Spain, to the nearest black hole, which is called 1A 0620-00.

An address was given by Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, who first met Prof Hawking at the University of Cambridge in the early 60s, while Prof Hawking's collaborator and Nobel prize victor Kip Thorne also gave a tribute. Hawking is most known for his research on black holes and for his advocacy for scientific work.

Around 1,000 members of the public, selected by a ballot, will join Hawking's family for the service.

Hawking, who died in March, revolutionized the scientific understanding of black holes - and won the hearts of people across the world with his tireless scientific advocacy.

He also hypothesized that miniature black holes, remnants of the big bang, may be strewn through space, though he noted that they haven't been discovered.

Hawking was just 21 when he was diagnosed with ALS - Lou Gehrig's disease - and told he had just a few years to live.

"We are so grateful to Westminster Abbey for offering us the privilege of a service of thanksgiving for the extraordinary life of our father and for giving him such a distinguished final resting place", said his children Lucy, Robert and Tim.

Although Hawking may have been incapacitated physically, he managed to write a number of books, including the best seller "A Brief History of Time", teach physics and mathematics, deliver speeches and even float in zero gravity, all while working in the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity.

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