Quotes from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes

Stephen Hawking ·  198 pages

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“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At teh end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever, " said the old lady. "But it turtles all the way down!”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity's deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“If there really is a complete unified theory that governs everything, it presumably also determines your actions. But it does so in a way that is impossible to calculate for an organism that is as complicated as a human being. The reason we say that humans have free will is because we can't predict what they will do.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“IF you remember every word in this book, your memory will have recorded about two million pieces of information: the order in your brain will have increased by about two million units. However, while you have been reading the book, you will have converted at least a thousand calories of ordered energy, in the form of food, into disordered energy, in the form of heat that you lose to the air around you by convection and sweat. This will increase the disorder of the universe by about twenty million million million million units - or about ten million million million times the increase in order in your brain - and that's if you remember everything in this book.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“Only time(whatever that may be) will tell.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“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.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“The rate of progress is so rapid that what one learns at school or university is always a bit out of date. Only a few people can keep up with the rapidly advancing frontier of knowledge, and they have to devote their whole time to it and specialize in a small area. The rest of the population has little idea of the advances that are being made
or the excitement they are generating.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“In the eighteenth century, philosophers considered the whole of human knowledge, including science, to be their field and discussed questions such as: Did the universe have a beginning? However, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for the philosophers, or anyone else except a few specialists. Philosophers reduced the scope of their inquiries so much that Wittgenstein, the most famous philosopher of this century, said, "The sole remaining task for philosophy is the analysis of language." What a comedown from the great tradition of philosophy from Aristotle to Kant!”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is?”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“There could be whole antiworlds and antipeople made out of antiparticles. However, if you meet your antiself, don’t shake hands! You would both vanish in a great flash of light.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“Today will still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity's deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“What did God do before he created the universe?”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“As we shall see, the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: "What did God do before he created the universe?" Augustine didn't reply: "He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“... if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“A million million million million (1 with twenty-four zeros after it) miles, the size of the observable universe.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements. It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“Einstein never accepted that the universe was governed by chance; his feelings were summed up in his famous statement “God does not play dice.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“It is said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But the universe is the ultimate free lunch.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“Or in other words, why does disorder increase in the same direction of time as that in which the universe expands?”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“…only in the few universes that are like ours would intelligent beings develop and ask the question: “Why is the universe the way we see it?” The answer is then simple: If it had been any different, we would not be here!”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“We now know that our galaxy is only one of some hundred thousand million that can be seen using modern telescopes, each galaxy itself containing some hundred thousand million stars.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“This means it will take about a thousand million million million million years for the earth to run into the sun, so there’s no immediate cause for worry!”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


“We have developed from the geocentric cosmologies of Ptolemy and his forebears, through the heliocentric cosmology of Copernicus and Galileo, to the modern picture in which the earth is a medium-sized planet orbiting around an average star in the outer suburbs of an ordinary spiral galaxy, which is itself only one of about a million million galaxies in the observable universe.”
― Stephen Hawking, quote from A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


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About the author

Stephen Hawking
Born place: in Oxford, The United Kingdom
Born date January 8, 1942
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