Stephen Hawking's memorable quotes: 'We are just an advanced breed of monkeys'

 usatoday.com  3/14/2018 1:23:35 PM  4  Jane Onyanga-Omara
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Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, according to his family. Here is a look back on his life as one of the world's foremost theoretical physicists. USA TODAY

LONDON — Stephen Hawking, the legendary British theoretical physicist, has died at age 76 his family announced in a statement early Wednesday.

The cause of death was not immediately available. His family said he died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, in eastern England. Hawking had been confined to a wheelchair by a form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — a neurological disease — for decades, and communicated using a speech synthesizer.

As well as being a world-renowned scientist, Hawking was known for his memorable and inspirational musings.

Here are some of them:

On humans and our place in the world

"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."

"I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate." 

"We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet."

On knowledge

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

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

"Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking."

On his disability

"My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in."

"Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free."

On his philosophy 

"Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny."

“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.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

More: Stephen Hawking, legendary physicist, dies at 76, family says

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