Stephen Hawking at "Interstellar Live" in London on March 30, 2015.
Dave J. Hogan—Getty Images
By Drake Baer / Business Insider
September 25, 2015

When he was 21, Stephen Hawking learned he had motor neurone disease.

Doctors told him he had a few years to live.

He’s now 72 and one of the foremost physicists alive — a professor at the University of Cambridge, an investigator of black holes, and the author of the bestselling book, A Brief History of Time.

Here are a dozen quotes showing Hawking’s approach to science and to life.


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.”

The New York Times, 2011

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On Priorities

“My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

Stephen Hawking’s Universe, 1985


On Free Will

“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.”

Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, 1994


On Humor

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”

The New York Times Magazine, 2004


On His IQ

“I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.”

The New York Times Magazine, 2004


On What He Think About All Day

“Women. They are a complete mystery.”

The New Scientist, 2012


His Advice to His Three Children

“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.”

ABC News, 2010


On Why He Writes for a Popular Audience

“I put a lot of effort into writing A Briefer History at a time when I was critically ill with pneumonia because I think that it’s important for scientists to explain their work, particularly in cosmology. This now answers many questions once asked of religion.”

The Guardian, 2005


On the Value of String Theory

“When we understand string theory, we will know how the universe began. It won’t have much effect on how we live, but it is important to understand where we come from and what we can expect to find as we explore.”

The Guardian, 2005


On His Health

“When I was first diagnosed with ALS, I was given two years to live. Now 45 years later, I am doing pretty well.”

CNN, 2010


On God

“God may exist, but science can explain the universe without a need for a creator.”

CNN, 2010


On Hitting Roadblocks

“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.”

The Guardian, 2005

This article originally appeared on Business Insider

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