The famous physicist Stephen Hawking died on this day five years ago at the age of 76. In the public eye for decades, from his work exploring black holes to a cameo appearance The simpsons – he has put together a portfolio of witty and memorable quotes.
Some of them appear below, on topics like artificial intelligence, fame, life, the universe and all.
In the words of others, Hawking was described Wednesday as having “a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit”; “inspiring”; and an “Ambassador of Science”.
About life and death
Hawking doesn’t believe in life after death, he said in 2011. But the threat of one isn’t necessary to get people to behave well, he added. When asked how a person should live their only life, he said: “We should seek the greatest value in our actions.”
In the same interview with The guard, Hawking said motor neuron disease meant he had lived with the possibility of dying early for several decades. He added: “I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no rush to die. I have so many things I want to do first.”
The scientist thought it a succinct line to stay cheerful when talking to him The New York Times in 2004, saying, “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”
And he was quoted in People’s Daily Online in 2006 as saying about euthanasia: “The victim should have the right to end their life if they choose. But I think it would be a big mistake. No matter how bad life may seem, there is always something you can do and be successful. As long as there is life there is hope.”
About artificial and extraterrestrial intelligence
“I think the development of full artificial intelligence could mean the end of humanity,” Hawking told the BBC in 2014.
“Humans constrained by slow biological evolution would not be able to keep up and would be overtaken.”
Although Hawking pushed for humanity to escape Earth and explore outer space, and backed the Breakthrough Starshot interstellar spacecraft project in 2016, Hawking was adamant that first contact with extraterrestrial species should be avoided.
In 2004 he told the National Geographic Channel, “I think it would be catastrophic. The aliens would probably be way ahead of us. The history of advanced races that met more primitive humans on this planet is not very fortunate and they were the same species. I think we should keep our heads low.”
About human intelligence
“People who brag about their IQ are losers,” he said in a December 2004 interview with The New York Times.
Yet in a 1999 episode The simpsons – “They Saved Lisa’s Brain,” in which Lisa joins the Springfield branch of Mensa and eventually takes over running the city – Hawking silenced all of the show’s smartest characters by proclaiming during an argument about who was the smartest: “Big ones Matter. My IQ is 280.”
He also admonished the group with a lecture on how power corrupts while doing an Inspector Gadget-style spin upstairs from his motorized wheelchair.
Hawking was famous for his sharp mind. Talking to comedian John Oliver about his program Last week tonight The physicist was asked if, in a reality containing multiple universes, there is one where the host is “smarter than you”.
“Yeah, and a universe you’re funny in too,” the Cambridge academic shot back.
Stephen Hawking: A Life in Pictures
To his fame
“The downside of being famous is that I can’t go anywhere in the world without being recognized. It’s not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away,” he said on Israeli television in December 2006.
However, he told The New York Times two years earlier, he wanted his books “to be sold at airport bookstalls.”
About space and the universe
Hawking remains best known for his work describing the nature of black holes.
About the phenomenon he said in a 1996 book: “Einstein was wrong when he said: ‘God doesn’t play dice.’ Observing black holes not only suggests that God plays dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they cannot be seen.”
In his classic A Brief History of TimeHawking famously said of scientists striving to develop a unifying theory to explain the mechanics of the universe: “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of reason – for then we should know the mind of God.”
The memorable, metaphorical statement has been widely debated since its publication in 1988, but questions about Hawking’s beliefs about the origins of the universe were decisively answered in his 2010 book. The big design.
In it he wrote: “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is why 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 start the universe.”
On the issue of disability
Hawking tells The New York Times In 2011, this motor neuron disease had taught him not to “feel sorry for himself” because others were worse off.
He added: “My advice to other disabled people would be to focus on things that your disability doesn’t prevent you from being good and don’t regret the things that affect you. Do not be mentally or physically handicapped.”
Additional reporting by PA
This article was originally published in 2018. It was re-released in 2023 to mark the anniversary of Hawking’s death