Rare Stephen Hawking-signed book goes up for auction

Stephen Hawking, perhaps the world's most famous physicist, died last month at the age of 76. Yet his memory continues to live on, as a book signed by the late scientist goes up for auction this week.

The book, ''The Archaeology of the Industrial Revolution'," was signed by Hawking in 1973, shortly before he was physically unable to write his name due to ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. In addition to Hawking's signature, the book is also signed by several other members of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy at Cambridge University to celebrate an employee leaving his job as a computer operator.

Stephen Hawking book 2

 (The inside of the book showing it has been signed by Dr. Hawking in 1973. Credit: Nate D. Sanders Auctions)

Below Hawking's signature is the inscription: ''With gratitude and best wishes from the friends of the IOA computer staff.''

STEPHEN HAWKING, FAMED PHYSICIST, DEAD AT 76

The book has some "light pulling away from the binder" at the bottom of the signature page, but is "overall in near fine condition," according to the lot description. It also comes with an email chain proving the record of ownership by the recipient of the book and is described as a "fantastic item, captured during the brief time that Hawking's physical condition was deteriorating but his intellectual achievements were rapidly accelerating."

The famed physicist was a researcher at the Institute from 1968 to 1973. It was during his time there that he published what many consider to be his first important book, ''The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time," published in 1973.

In addition to publishing the book, Hawking's time at the Institute is some of his most important. It was there that he made early breakthroughs surrounding both black holes and quantum mechanics.

It was also during his time at Cambridge where he was diagnosed with ALS, a fatal motor neuron disease that causes progressive muscle weakness and atrophy. By 1975, Hawking was confined to a wheelchair.

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Although Hawking, who passed away on March 14, may have been incapacitated physically, he managed to live a fulfilling life. Some of his notable accomplishments include writing books, including the best seller "A Brief History of Time," teaching physics and mathematics, delivering speeches, floating in zero gravity, all while working in the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity.

April 9, 2013: British cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who has motor neuron disease, gives a talk titled  "A Brief History of Mine," to workers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

 (AP Photo/Cedars-Sinai, Eric Reed)

Not modest about his life's work, he once said: "My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."

Bidding for the book begins at $28,000 and the auction ends April 26.

Fox News contributed to this story. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia