Stephen Hawking death: The famed physicist's best quotes
The famed physicist Stephen Hawking has died, aged 76. During decades in the public eye â" from his work investigating black holes to a cameo on The Simpsons â" he amassed a portfolio of witty and memorable quotes.
A few of them appear below, on subjects including artificial intelligence, fame, life, the universe and everything.
In the words of others, Hawking was described on Wednesday as âa colossal mind and a wonderful spiritâ; âinspirationalâ; and an âambassador of scienceâ.
On life and death
Hawking did not believe in an afterlife, he saidin 2011. But the threat of one was not necessary to induce people to behave well, he added. When asked how a person should live their only life, he said: âWe should seek the greatest value of our action.â
In the same interview with The Guardian, Hawking said having motor neurone dise ase meant he had lived with the possibility of dying early for several decades. He added: âIâm not afraid of death, but Iâm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.â
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Stephen Hawking, a giant of physics who bridged the pop culture divide
The scientist took a pithy line on staying cheerful when he spoke to The New York Times in 2004, saying: âLife would be tragic if it werenât funny.â
And he was quoted in Peopleâs Daily Online in 2006 as having said about euthanasia: âThe victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants. But I think it would be a great mistake. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While thereâs life, there is hope.â
On artificial and extraterrestrial intelligence< p>âI think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human raceâ, Hawking told the BBC in a 2014 interview. âOnce humans develop artificial intelligence, it will take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate.
âHumans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldnât compete and would be superseded.â
Despite pushing for humanity to escape Earth and explore space, and in 2016 backing the Breakthrough Starshot interstellar spacecraft project, Hawking felt strongly that first contact with alien species should be avoided.
He told The National Geographic Channelin 2004: âI think it would be a disaster. The extraterrestrials would probably be far in advance of us. The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species. I think we should keep our heads low.â
On human intelligence
âPeople who boast about their IQ are losersâ, he said in the December 2004 interview with The New York Times.
Nonetheless in a 1999 episode of The Simpsons â" âThey Saved Lisaâs Brainâ, in which Lisa joins the Springfield branch of Mensa and eventually takes over the running of the town â" Hawking silenced all the showâs brainiest characters by announcing during an argument as to who was smartest: âBig deal. My IQ is 280.â
He further admonished the group with a lecture on how power corrupts, while sending himself up with an Inspector Gadget-style turn from his motorised wheelchair.
Hawking was famously possessed of a sharp wit. Speaking to comedian John Oliver on his programme Last Week Tonight the physicist was asked whether in a reality that contained multiple universes, one existed in which the host was âsmarter than youâ.
âYes, and also a universe where youâre funnyâ, the Cambridge academic shot back.
Stephen Hawking: a life in pictures
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Stephen Hawking: a life in pictures
Hawking at his Oxford graduation
The physicist at Cambridge University in 1988
Hawking navigates the narrow streets between his residence and university
Hawking as a young man
Stephen Hawking and Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin with their portraits unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in London, 1992
Stephen Hawking and his new bride Elaine Mason pose for pictures after the blessing of their wedding in 1995
Hawking arriving at the Chilean Antarctic base in 1997
Bill Gates, accompanied by vice-chancellor Alec Broers, meets Hawking on a visit to Cambridge University in 1997
Stephen Hawking celebrates his 60th birthday in 2002 at Cambridge Univer sity
Hawking holds a lecture for a symposium of cosmologists at Stockholm University in 2003
The physicist floats in a weightless environment during a flight aboard a modified Boeing 727 in 2007
Stephen Hawking addresses a public meeting in Cape Town, 2008. Hawking was in South Africa for a short visit, accompanied by Nobel laureates David Gross and George Smoot
Nelson Mandela Hawking in Johannesburg, 2008
Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to Hawking during a ceremony at the White House, 2009
The physicist enjoys the sun at the Stephen Hawking Garden for Motor Neurone Disease at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2010
Hawking speaks via satellite during the Science Channel portion of the 2010 Television Critics Association Press Tour
Hawking speaks during a press conference in London, 2014. Intel demonstrated with the professor a new communications platform to replace his decades-old system
Actors Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne pose with Hawking at the UK premiere of the âThe Theory of Everythingâ in 2014
Hawking and Felicity Jones present the award for Special Visual Effects at the Baftas in 2015
Hawking t akes part in a âLittle Britainâ sketch for Red Nose Day 2015, with Catherine Tate and David Walliams
Pope Francis meets with Hawking at the Vatican in 2016
Hawking receives his Freedom of the City of London scroll in 2017
Participants listen to a recorded speech by Hawking on artificial intelligence at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing, 2017
On his fame
âThe downside o f 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 awayâ, he said in an interview on Israeli TV in December 2006.
He told the NYT two years earlier he wanted his books âsold on airport bookstallsâ, however.
On space and the universe
Hawking remains best-known for his work describing the nature of black holes, the fascinating and enigmatic regions of space where gravity is so strong even light cannot escape.
Of the phenomenon, he said in a 1996 book: âEinstein was wrong when he said, âGod does not play diceâ. Consideration of black holes suggests not only that God does play dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they canât be seen.â
In his classic book A Brief History of Time, Hawking famously said of scientists striving to produce a unifying theory explaining the universe âs mechanics: âIf we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of reason â" for then we should know the mind of God.â
The memorable, metaphorical statement has been often discussed since it was published in 1988, but questions over Hawkingâs beliefs about the origins of the universe were answered firmly in his 2010 book, The Grand Design.
In it, he wrote: âBecause there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.â
Hawking told the NYT in 2011 motor neurone disease had taught him ânot to pity myselfâ because others were worse off.
He added: âMy advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesnât pre vent you doing well, and donât regret the things it interferes with. Donât be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.â
Additional reporting by PA
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