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Stephen Hawking


British theoretical physicist.
Stephen Hawking
[on the possibility of contact with an alien civilization] I think it would be a disaster. The extraterrestrials 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.
Hawking quotes
It has certainly been true in the past that what we call intelligence and scientific discovery have conveyed a survival advantage. It is not so clear that this is still the case: our scientific discoveries may well destroy us all, and even if they don’t, a complete unified theory may not make much difference to our chances of survival. However, provided the universe has evolved in a regular way, we might expect that the reasoning abilities that natural selection has given us would be valid also in our search for a complete unified theory, and so would not lead us to the wrong conclusions.
Hawking
Many people would claim that the boundary conditions are not part of physics but belong to metaphysics or religion. They would claim that nature had complete freedom to start the universe off any way it wanted. That may be so, but it could also have made it evolve in a completely arbitrary and random manner. Yet all the evidence is that it evolves in a regular way according to certain laws. It would therefore seem reasonable to suppose that there are also laws governing the boundary conditions.




Hawking Stephen quotes
Bodies like the earth are not made to move on curved orbits by a force called gravity; instead, they follow the nearest thing to a straight path in a curved space, which is called a geodesic. A geodesic is the shortest (or longest) path between two nearby points.
Hawking Stephen
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. In my opinion, one should concentrate on activities in which one's physical disability will not present a serious handicap. I am afraid that Olympic Games for the disabled do not appeal to me, but it is easy for me to say that because I never liked athletics anyway. On the other hand, science is a very good area for disabled people because it goes on mainly in the mind. Of course, most kinds of experimental work are probably ruled out for most such people, but theoretical work is almost ideal. 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. I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students. I find that 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.
Stephen Hawking quotes
There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win, because it works.
Stephen Hawking
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.
Hawking Stephen quotes
For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and 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.
Hawking
There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe and what can be more special than that there is no boundary?
Hawking Stephen
[discussing Roger Penrose] These lectures have shown very clearly the difference between Roger and me. He's a Platonist and I'm a positivist. He's worried that Schrödinger's cat is in a quantum state, where it is half alive and half dead. He feels that can't correspond to reality. But that doesn't bother me. I don't demand that a theory correspond to reality because I don't know what it is. Reality is not a quality you can test with litmus paper. All I'm concerned with is that the theory should predict the results of measurements. Quantum theory does this very successfully. It predicts that the result of an observation is either that the cat is alive or that it is dead. It is like you can't be slightly pregnant: you either are or you aren't.
Stephen Hawking
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.




Stephen Hawking quotes
I used to think that information was destroyed in black holes. But the AdS/CFT correspondence led me to change my mind. This was my biggest blunder, or at least my biggest blunder in science.
Stephen Hawking
Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory. As philosopher of science Karl Popper has emphasized, a good theory is characterized by the fact that it makes a number of predictions that could in principle be disproved or falsified by observation. Each time new experiments are observed to agree with the predictions the theory survives, and our confidence in it is increased; but if ever a new observation is found to disagree, we have to abandon or modify the theory.
Hawking quotes
I think computer viruses should count as life ... I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image.
Hawking Stephen
The world has changed far more in the past 100 years than in any other century in history. The reason is not political or economic but technological — technologies that flowed directly from advances in basic science.
Hawking Stephen quotes
I think that it's important for scientists to explain their work, particularly in cosmology. This now answers many questions once asked of religion.
Stephen Hawking
One could say: "The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary." The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE.
Stephen Hawking quotes
The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.
Stephen Hawking
My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.
Hawking Stephen
When I gave a lecture in Japan, I was asked not to mention the possible re-collapse of the universe, because it might affect the stock market. However, I can re-assure anyone who is nervous about their investments that it is a bit early to sell: even if the universe does come to an end, it won't be for at least twenty billion years. By that time, maybe the GATT trade agreement will have come into effect.


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