Stephen Hawking, a legendary physicist, cosmologist and author of several distinguished books died at the age of 76 on Wednesday. In a brief look back at his legacy, here are some of the great quotes from the stellar scientist.
Diagnosed with a rare disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and given two years to live, Hawkings would surprise his detractors and go on to lecture across the planet and write great books such as ‘A Brief History of Time‘ and ‘The Universe in a Nutshell.’
The former University of Cambridge Lucasian Professor of Mathematics was renowned for his contributions to gravitational physics and quantum mechanics, but many remember him for his astounding wit, shrewd skepticism blended with faith in humanity, and his profound understanding of the human spirit. Here are just a few of his best anecdotes as a tribute to the great soul. A full list would take almost as long as he lived to compile, and picking out ‘the best’ from the wealth of wisdom he left behind is a futile endeavor.
“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.”
“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
“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.”
“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically”
“So 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.”
“My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”