The best Stephen Hawking quotes about love, life and the universe

Posted by
Megan Murray

Stephen Hawking was one of the most extraordinary humans to have ever lived. To mark his death, we look at some of his most incredible quotes…

World-famous physicist, cosmologist, author and inspiration to millions, Professor Stephen Hawking, has died at the age of 76. 

He passed away peacefully at his Cambridge home in the early hours of 14 March, leaving the world grieving for a man who was heralded the most intelligent person on earth… not that he’d ever admit so himself. 

Of course, Hawking is best known for his ground-breaking work on the theory of relativity, his scientific work on black holes and being the first person to set out a theory of cosmology. His life has also been represented through popular culture, such as his appearances in The Simpsons and the award-winning, biographical film, The Theory of Everything.

However, it is worth noting that the physicist also identified himself as a feminist ally – a point he made abundantly clear when, last year, he shut down Good Morning Britain presenter and journalist Piers Morgan during an interview. 

Morgan had asked Hawking if having five important female leaders at the highest positions in Britain was the “scientific evidence” gender equality needs, and the author wasted no time putting him in his place. 

“It is not scientific proof of gender equality that is required, but general acceptance that women are at least the equals of men or better,” he said, before pledging his support for “women’s liberation” and stating that he is a feminist, who has “always supported women’s rights.”

Here, we remember the professor with some of his best quotes, on subjects from love to the depths of the universe, and everything in between. 

On remembering what’s important:

“It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.”

Professor Stephen Hawking 

On perseverance: 

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

On curiosity: 

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”

Stephen Hawking at One World Observatory

On staying humble:

“People who boast about their IQ are losers.”

On not letting anything hold you back:

“I have always tried to overcome the limitations of my condition and lead as full a life as possible. I have traveled the world, from the Antarctic to zero gravity. Perhaps one day I will go into space.”

Stephen Hawking showing a prize winner around his favourite spots of London’s Science Museum 

On the human race:

“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.”

On staying inquisitive: 

“Be curious, and try to make sense of what you see. We live in a universe governed by rational laws that we can discover and understand. Despite recent triumphs, there are many new and deep mysteries that remain for you to solve.”

Stephen Hawking with Eddie Redmayne, who played the scientist in The Theory of Everything 

On panicking about the earth’s imminent demise: 

“It will take about a thousand million million million million years for the earth to run into the sun, so there’s no immediate cause for worry!”

On AI:

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it.”

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Stephen Hawking and his family at the EE British Academy Film Awards

On never giving up:

“Black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole, both to the outside, and possibly, to another universe. So, if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up. There’s a way out.”

On staying positive:

“It’s also important not to become angry, no matter how difficult life is, because you can lose all hope if you can’t laugh at yourself and at life in general.”

Stephen Hawking with the Queen

On getting perspective:

“The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.”

On embracing our flaws:

“Without imperfection, you or I would not exist.”

Stephen Hawking onstage during the New Space Exploration Initiative ‘Breakthrough Starshot’ announcement

On the importance of humour: 

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”

On maintaining an optimistic outlook: 

“People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”

Stephen Hawking unveiling Medal For Science Communication

On living with a disability:

“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.”

On pursuing a kick-ass career:

“Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.”

Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane, with Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne at the UK premiere of The Theory of Everything 

On taking care of our planet:

“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.”

Images: Getty