Stephen Hawking – 12 Thoughts on Life, Disability and Other Matters

There are times when it doesn’t matter what discipline you have followed when you have lived at the same time as someone who was truly amazing. Stephen Hawking may have spoken a language most of us didn’t understand but he was a warm engaging human being who was, and still is, a thought leader in so many ways, yet still so pragmatic. Here are some of his insights, most of which have relevance to all of us, how we live our lives and how we view the world and the importance of work.

On humanity…
‘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’ – Interview, Der Spiegel, October 1988

On life…
‘1… Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.
2… Never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.
3…If you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away’ Interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, June 2010

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’ – Interview, New York Times, May 2011

On an imperfect world…
‘Without imperfection, you or I would not exist’ – On Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking, Discovery Channel, 2010

On staying cheerful…
‘Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny’ – Interview, New York Times, December 2004

On euthanasia…
‘The victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants. But I think it would be a great mistake. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope’ – People’s Daily Online, June 2006

On artificial intelligence…
‘The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded’ – Interview, BBC, December 2014

On fame…
‘The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark glasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away’.

On the possibility of contact between humans and 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’ – In Naked Science: Alien Contact, the National Geographic Channel, 2004

On the end of the universe…
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! – A Brief History Of Time, published 1988

On being diagnosed with motor neurone disease…
‘My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus’ – Interview. New York Times, December 2004

On death…
‘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