13 Stephen Hawking Quotes That Inspired the World

The physicist left the world with his insights. Here are some of his best.
Shelby Rogers
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden presenting items to Hawking to celebrate his zero gravity experience in 2015.NASA

The late physicist Stephen Hawking might have been confined to a wheelchair for most of his life, but it never stopped him from producing some of the most memorable words in modern science. To honor his legacy, we've put together some of our favorite Hawking quotes. 

On Space

"Remember to 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. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up." (GoodReads)

"I have already completed a zero gravity flight which allowed me to float weightless, but my ultimate ambition is to fly into space." -- to ITV in 2017.

On Humanity

"Without imperfection, you or I would not exist" - "The Universe With Stephen Hawking", Discovery Channel (2010)

"Without imperfection, you or I would not exist"

“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."(GoodReads)

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus."  (GoodReads)

"However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up." -- at an Oxford University Union speech in 2016.

"My [physician assistant] reminds me that although I have a PhD in physics, women should remain a mystery." -- in his first Reddit AMA. (His PA is a woman, by the way.)

“For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.” (GoodReads)

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On 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" - Interview, New York Times, May 2011


"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." -BBC

"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" - Interview, the Guardian, May 2011

On Aliens

"I think it would be a disaster. The extra-terrestrials 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" - "Naked Science: Alien Contact", National Geographic Channel (2004)

"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" - Interview, the Daily Telegraph, October 2001