When Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at age 21, he wasn’t expected to live more than a few years.
Most people diagnosed with ALS die within three to five years. But Hawking defied the odds and lived to be 76.
An inspirational hero to many, the news of his death today has broken our hearts and shaken up the world of science.
From an early age, Hawking expanded my mind when it came to matters of the universe. He inspired me to think bigger and develop an ardent curiosity about the workings of the cosmos.
There is no doubt why Hawking is one of the most admired scientists of our time. He made it his purpose to understand our universe. His undeniable passion for physics has, in return, ignited an admiration for it within so many of us.
Not only was Hawking an inspiration to the lovers of science, but also to those of us who doubt ourselves. Although he was confined to a wheelchair, his disability didn’t stop him from producing some of the most pioneering discoveries about unexplored facets of the universe and black holes.
Hawking constantly proved to the world that a physical disability shouldn’t disable our ambitions or prevent us from being mentally active.
Though our hero has left the physical world today, his words and discoveries shall always be engraved in the soul of history.
Here are some of his most intriguing insights:
1. “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.”
2. “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.”
3. “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.
4. “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”
5. “It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there. Be curious.”
6. “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.”
7. “If you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well.”
8. “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”
9. “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.”
10. “Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.”
11. “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist.”
12. “People, in general, are very ready to help, but you should encourage them to feel that their efforts to aid you are worthwhile by doing as well as you possibly can.”
13. “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”
14. “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.”
15. “I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Occasionally, I find an answer.”
16. “I regard the afterlife to be a fairy story for people that are afraid of the dark.”
17. “So 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.”
18. “People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”
19. “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…I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail.”
Rest in peace—and in the universe, you genius.
Bonus: 5 Mindful Things to Do Each Morning.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen