An ambitious man once said: “My goal is simple. It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” And he made sure he dedicated his life to this purpose. World-renowned British theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14, 2018, leaving behind an unparalleled scientific legacy.
While many of us don’t fully understand the details of this legacy, we can still grasp its immense importance from the reactions and the feedback of the scientific community following his published research papers and books.
To put it (relatively) simply, Stephen Hawking was world-famous for his work in the fields of cosmology (the study of the origin and nature of the universe), general relativity (Einstein’s theory that factored gravity into the relativistic view of the universe) and quantum gravity (which attempts to explain the physics of gravity in terms of quantum mechanics), especially in the context of black holes.
Hawking’s popularity spiked when he published his runaway bestseller A Brief History of Time in 1988. The book was written for nonspecialist readers, allowing us to peak into this exclusive world. Thirty years later, it is still a reference for anyone trying to understand the universe surrounding us.
After 76 years of existence and ground-breaking discoveries, we can safely predict that Stephen Hawking may have some singular views about the universe and life. So what had he seen that we didn’t?
21.) Words Of Wisdom
“I believe everyone should have a broad picture of how the universe operates and our place in it. It is a basic human desire. And it also puts our worries in perspective.”
― From an interview With Larry King on 2010
20.) Drawing Real Life Lessons From Scientific Theories
“If you feel like you’re in a black hole, don’t give up. There is a way out.”
― From Professor’s Stephen Hawking’s Reith Lecture for BBC Radio 4
19.) Asking The Real Questions …
“If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?”
― From A Brief History Of Time
18.) … Then Answering Them!
“The future is unknown and open, so it might well have the curvature required. This would mean that any time travel would be confined to the future. There would be no chance of Captain Kirk and the Starship Enterprise turning up at the present time.”
― From A Brief History Of Time
17.) On Our Deepest Desires
“Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.”
― From A Brief History Of Time
16.) How Would He Use Time Travel?
“I would go back to 1967, and the birth of my first child, Robert. My three children have brought me great joy.”
— From an interview with The New York Times, May 2011
15.) Were Do I Book My Ticket To Mars?
“I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space.”
― From an interview with The Telegraph, 2001
14.) On Why School Might Always Be Outdated
“In Newton’s time it was possible for an educated person to have a grasp of the whole of human knowledge, at least in outline. But since then, the pace of the development of science has made this impossible. Because theories are always being changed to account for new observations, they are never properly digested or simplified so that ordinary people can understand them … Further, the rate of progress is so rapid that what one learns at school or university is always a bit out of date.”
13.) Nobody’s Perfect — You Live And You Learn
“Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”
— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010
12.) Throwing Shade At All of Humanity? Yep, He Did That.
“I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth.”
― From the documentary Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking on Discovery Channel, 2010
11.) Nonetheless, We’re Still Special!
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”
― From an interview with German paper Der Spiegel, 1988
“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”
― From an interview with CNN on September 10, 2010
9.) When a Fish Bowl Sparks an Existential Crisis
“A few years ago, the city council of Monza, Italy, barred pet owners from keeping goldfish in curved bowls … saying that it is cruel to keep a fish in a bowl with curved sides because, gazing out, the fish would have a distorted view of reality. But how do we know we have the true, undistorted picture of reality?”
― From the book The Grand Design, 2010
8.) When Science And Champagne Make a Good Combo
“I like simple experiments … and champagne … so I’ve combined two of my favorite things to see if time travel from the future to the past is possible. I’m throwing a party. A welcome reception for future time travelers.”
7.) Is There Hope For The Rest of Us, Too?
“I was never top of the class at school, but my classmates must have seen potential in me, because my nickname was ‘Einstein’.”
― From the lecture “My Brief History,” 2010
6.) Meet Virus.exe, My New Pet
“I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created sofar is purely destructive. We’ve created life in our own image.”
― From a speech at Macworld Expo in Boston in 1994
5.) Wait … The Past Is Indefinite?!
“The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.”
― From The Grand Design
“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”
— From an interview in The New York Times, December 2004
“The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.”
— From an interview on Israeli TV, December 2006
2.) On The Gift Of Life
“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
— From an interview in The Guardian, May 2011
1.) And Finally:
“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”
— From his conversation with Diane Sawyer on ABC World News, June 2010
Which one of these quotes moved you the most? Do you know any others? Let us know in the comments and share the article with your friends to offer them these lessons about life from one of the most brilliant minds humanity has ever known!