11 Stephen Hawking Quotes That'll Inspire You To Never Stop Learning
On March 14, 2018, one of the world's most renowned scientists passed away at the age of 76. As the world remembers him and honors his memory, it's fitting to look back on some of Stephen Hawking's most inspirational quotes, many of which encourage people to never stop learning and to realize that their minds have unlimited potential.
Throughout his career, Hawking did revolutionary work in the fields of astronomy, cosmology, and mathematics. He conducted extensive research relating to the origin and development of the universe and also published a widely popular book on the subject in 1988 — A Brief History of Time — which has sold over 10 million copies. Hawking also served as a professor at the University of Cambridge for most of his career and received more than a dozen different honorary academic degrees for his trailblazing scientific work.
In addition to his professional achievements, Hawking was known for his personal resilience, as he battled the neurodegenerative disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) from age 21 onward. The disease left him almost completely paralyzed, but did not stop him from pursuing his lofty scientific ambitions.
Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, released a statement announcing their father's passing.
The quotes below serve as poignant reminders of Hawking's extraordinary findings — and are words which will likely serve as inspiration for many generations to come.
On Not Being Perfect
"Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist."
— 2010, from the documentary Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking
On Always Being Curious
"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."
— 2012, recorded speech given at a symposium at Cambridge University for Hawking's 70th birthday
On Expanding Your Mind
"To confine our attention to terrestrial matters, would be to limit the human spirit."
— 2007, in a forward to The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence Krauss
On The Important Things In Life
"One, 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."
— 2010, in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer
On The Power Of Persistence
"It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years."
— 2005, in an interview in The Guardian
"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."
— 1994, in Hawking's Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays
On Humanity's Place In The Universe
"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. That would be like saying that you would disappear if I closed my eyes."
— 1995, in an interview with Ken Campbell on Reality on the Rocks: Beyond Our Ken
On The Power Of Communication
"For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk. 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."
— 1993, in a British Telecom advertisement
On Maintaining Childlike Curiosity
"I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these 'how' and 'why' questions. Occasionally, I find an answer."
— 2013, from Hawking's My Brief History
On His Essentials For Survival
"Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor."
— 2013, in Hawking, a documentary
On Shared Humanity
"We are all different — but we share the same human spirit. Perhaps it's human nature that we adapt — and survive."
— 2013, in Hawking, a documentary
Hawking clearly offered many words of wisdom to others throughout his impressive career. These words will serve to carry on his memory and inspire aspiring scientists (and beyond) to never stop pursuing their ambitions.