Stephen Hawking Quotes 1–30 of 87 Quotes

Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS (8 January 1942 - 14 March 2018) was a British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.

Below are 30 of 87 sourced Stephen Hawking quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“The subject of this book is the structure of space-time on length-scales from 10-13cm, the radius of an elementary particle, up to 1028cm, the radius of the universe. ...we base our treatment on Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. This theory leads to two remarkable predictions about the universe: first, that the final fate of massive stars is to collapse behind an event horizon to form a 'black hole' which will contain a singularity; and secondly, that there is a singularity in our past which constitutes, in some sense, a beginning to the universe.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Quote source: with G.F.R. Ellis, "The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time" (1973) Preface

“I regard [the many worlds interpretation] as self-evidently correct. [T.F.: Yet some don't find it evident to themselves.] Yeah, well, there are some people who spend an awful lot of time talking about the interpretation of quantum mechanics. My attitude — I would paraphrase Goering—is that when I hear of Schrödinger's cat, I reach for my gun.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#2

More on this quote: In a conversation with Timothy Ferris (4 April 1983), as quoted in The Whole Shebang (1998) by Timothy Ferris, p. 345
• Heard in person by this contributor when Hawking showed-up in a Caltech physics class taught by Robert Christy in 1980 or '81; when asked about collapse of the state-vector he whispered to his assistant Chris (surname unknown) something at which point Chris stood up and said 'Stephen is paraphrasing Herman Göring by saying "When I hear the words 'Schrödinger's Cat' I reach for my gun."'.

“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.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#3

Quote source: "The Quantum State of the Universe", Nuclear Physics (1984)

“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

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#4

Quote source: "Handicapped People and Science" by Stephen Hawking, Science Digest 92, No. 9 (September 1984): 92 (details of citation from here).

“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

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Quote source: As quoted in Stephen Hawking's Universe (1985) by John Boslough, Ch. 7 : The Final Question, p. 77

“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?”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#6

Quote source: As quoted in The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986) by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler. p. 444

“Einstein is the only figure in the physical sciences with a stature that can be compared with Newton. Newton is reported to have said "If I have seen further than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants." This remark is even more true of Einstein who stood on the shoulders of Newton. Both Newton and Einstein put forward a theory of mechanics and a theory of gravity but Einstein was able to base General Relativity on the mathematical theory of curved spaces that had been constructed by Riemann while Newton had to develop his own mathematical machinery. It is therefore appropriate to acclaim Newton as the greatest figure in mathematical physics and the Principia is his greatest achievement.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Quote source: "Newton's Principia" in 300 Years of Gravitation. (1987) by S. W. Hawking and W. Israel, p. 4 Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

“What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Quote source: Der Spiegel (17 October 1988)

“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.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#9

Quote source: Der Spiegel (17 October 1988)

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“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.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#11

Quote source: British Telecom advertisement (1993), part of which was used in Pink Floyd's Keep Talking (1994) and Talkin' Hawkin' (2014)

“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

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Quote source: During a debate with Roger Penrose in 1994 at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge, transcribed in The Nature of Space and Time (1996) by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, p. 121

“So Einstein was wrong when he said, "God does not play dice." Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#13

More on this quote: During the same 1994 exchange with Penrose as the previous quote, transcribed in The Nature of Space and Time (1996) by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, p. 26 and also in "The Nature of Space and Time" (online text)
• Unsourced variants: Not only does God play dice with the Universe; he sometimes casts them where they can't be seen.
Not only does God play dice, but... he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.

“I don't believe that the ultimate theory will come by steady work along existing lines. We need something new. We can't predict what that will be or when we will find it because if we knew that, we would have found it already! It could come in the next 20 years, but we might never find it.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Quote source: Science Watch (September 1994)

“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.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Quote source: Interview with Ken Campbell on Reality on the Rocks: Beyond Our Ken (1995)

“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.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Quote source: Speech at Macworld Expo in Boston, as quoted in The Daily News (4 August 1994). A nearly identical quote can be found at the end of the second paragraph of his lecture Life in the Universe (1996).

“It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Quote source: From the lecture Life in the Universe (1996)

“Einstein was confused, not the quantum theory.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Quote source: Lecture at the Amsterdam Symposium on Gravity, Black Holes, and String Theory (21 June 1997)

“All my life, I have been fascinated by the big questions that face us, and have tried to find scientific answers to them.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#19

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#19

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#19

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#19

Quote source: From the 1997 television program Stephen Hawking's Universe

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“One might think this means that imaginary numbers are just a mathematical game having nothing to do with the real world. From the viewpoint of positivist philosophy, however, one cannot determine what is real. All one can do is find which mathematical models describe the universe we live in. It turns out that a mathematical model involving imaginary time predicts not only effects we have already observed but also effects we have not been able to measure yet nevertheless believe in for other reasons. So what is real and what is imaginary? Is the distinction just in our minds?”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#21

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#21

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#21

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#21

Quote source: The Universe in a Nutshell (2001), p. 59

“Although September 11 was horrible, it didn't threaten the survival of the human race, like nuclear weapons do.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#22

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#22

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#22

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#22

Quote source: Interview "Colonies in space may be only hope, says Hawking" by Roger Highfield in Daily Telegraph (16 October 2001)

“I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I'm an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#23

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#23

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#23

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#23

Quote source: "Colonies in space may be only hope, says Hawking" by Roger Highfield in Daily Telegraph (16 October 2001).

“We shouldn't be surprised that conditions in the universe are suitable for life, but this is not evidence that the universe was designed to allow for life. We could call order by the name of God, but it would be an impersonal God. There's not much personal about the laws of physics.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#24

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#24

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#24

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#24

Quote source: Quoted in "Leaping the Abyss" (April 2002) by Gregory Benford, in Reason Magazine

“[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.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#25

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#25

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#25

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#25

Quote source: Appearance in the National Geographic Channel program Naked Science: Alien Contact, as quoted in The New York Times (24 November 2004) and a CNN transcript of an interview with Seth Shostak from Anderson Cooper 360 (26 November 2004)

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

— Stephen Hawking

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Use the following citations in bold to cite the above quote for reference purposes. To cite multiple quotes, use the cite this page section below.

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#26

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#26

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#26

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#26

Quote source: Response upon being questioned as to his IQ, in interview with Deborah Solomon "The Science of Second-Guessing", The New York Times (12 December 2004)

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

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#27

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#27

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#27

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#27

Quote source: As quoted in "The Science of Second-Guessing", The New York Times (12 December 2004)

“I am discounting reports of UFOs. Why would they appear only to cranks and weirdos?”

— Stephen Hawking

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#28

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#28

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#28

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#28

Quote source: As quoted in a TED talk, "Asking Big Questions about the Universe"

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”

— Stephen Hawking

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Use the following citations in bold to cite the above quote for reference purposes. To cite multiple quotes, use the cite this page section below.

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#29

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#29

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#29

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html#29

Quote source: As quoted in "The Science of Second-Guessing", The New York Times (12 December 2004)

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Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Hawking, Stephen (2021, August 5) Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html

MLA Citation: Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Hawking, Stephen. “Stephen Hawking Quotes: 1–30 of 87 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Stephen-Hawking-quotes.html

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