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Prof Stephen Hawking, his world and work in his own words

Professor Stephen Hawking in March 2015 . Picture: Andre Pattenden
Professor Stephen Hawking in March 2015 . Picture: Andre Pattenden

The renowned scientist and communicator's most memorable quotes.

Prof Stephen Hawking, widely regarded one of the world’s most brilliant minds, passed away this morning in Cambridge.

A fellow of Gonville and Caius College, former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics and at the time of his death director of research at the Cambridge University Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Prof Hawking made major contributions to humankind’s understanding of the universe, and specifically black holes.

He has also been lauded for his works in communication; his best seller A Brief History of Time and its ‘sequel’ The Universe in a Nutshell made the complex theories surrounding, and expanded by, his work approachable and thought-provoking.

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His ideas and voice were heard around the world. Here are some of his memorable quotes:


“The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognized. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.”


“We are each free to believe what we want and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization. There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.


“Most of us don’t worry about these questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.”


“The rate of progress is so rapid that what one learns at school or university is always a bit out of date. Only a few people can keep up with the rapidly advancing frontier of knowledge, and they have to devote their whole time to it and specialize in a small area. The rest of the population has little idea of the advances that are being made or the excitement they are generating.”

The future

“I don’t think the human race will survive the next 1,000 years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars”


“The more profit is extracted from the system, the more private monopolies grow and the more expensive healthcare becomes. The NHS must be preserved from commercial interests and protected from those who want to privatise it.”


“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”


“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”

The world

“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent if we act now. By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children.”

The universe

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

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