On March 14, Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds this world has ever seen, died at the age of 76. Remarkably, the day of his death coincided with both Einstein’s birthday and #PiDay, proving that Hawking was right and that everything in the cosmos is connected, even if we don’t exactly know how.
Hawking was considered one of the world’s foremost theoretical physicists, one who not only explained complex scientific theories to the masses but also reminded us that the universe is a mysterious miracle that is just waiting to be explored. But he was also known for his humor, which helped him cope with his debilitating disease. Reacting to his death on Wednesday, Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for portraying Hawking in The Theory of Everything, said, “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”
Hawking himself, in one of his many inspirational quotes, said, “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.” Here are some of his funniest moments. And for more brilliance from history’s most brilliant minds, here’s How to Be Happy—According to Albert Einstein.
On Scientific Disoveries
“I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer,” he said in a lecture at Arizona State University in April 2011.
On Zayn Malik
In March 2015, Zayn Malik announced he was leaving One Direction, sending teenagers all over the world into a fit of despair. A month later, Hawking was giving a talk at the Sydney Opera House when someone asked him, “What do you think is the cosmological effect of Zayn leaving One Direction and consequently breaking the hearts of millions of teenage girls across the world?”
Hawking responded with, “Finally, a question about something important,” followed by this brilliant line: “My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay close attention to the study of theoretical physics. Because one day there may well be proof of multiple universes. It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another different universe. And in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.” And for more things we’d like proof of, here are the America’s 30 Most Fascinating Unsolved Mysteries.
On John Oliver
In 2014, he appeared on a segment of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, where the host asked him, “You’ve stated that you believe there could be an infinite number of parallel universes. Does that mean that there is a universe out there where I am smarter than you?”
Hawking quipped back, “Yes, and also a universe where you’re funny.” And for more epic burns that echo through history, check out the 30 Mark Twain One-Liners That Are Still Relevant Today.
When he was asked if he believed he was the most intelligent man in the world in an interview with The New York Times in 2004, Hawking said: “I would never claim this. People who boast about their IQ are losers.”
On Being a Celebrity
“”My [physician assistant, who is a woman] reminds me that although I have a Ph.D. in physics, women should remain a mystery,” he joked in his first Reddit AMA.
“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,” he wrote in Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays.
On Our Place in the Galaxy
“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.”
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