Stephen Hawking: A Brief History at Cal

On Wednesday, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died at his home in Cambridge, England at age 76. In his brief history of time on Earth, Hawking arguably became one of the most pivotal figures in science—known most widely for his calculations showing that the surface of black holes emit radiation (known as “Hawking radiation”) that makes them eventually disappear. 

Aside from that, Hawking was also recognized for his bold predictions—like when he posited that artificial intelligence could “spell the end of the human race.” And when he said that if aliens finally did land on Earth, they’d probably colonize and conquer us all.

“Meeting an advanced [alien] civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus,” Hawking said in the 2016 documentary Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places. “That didn’t turn out so well.”

And of course, no one can forget Hawking’s crucial contributions to culture—by way of his breakout appearances on The Simpsons and Star Trek, and of course, at UC Berkeley. He would always pack the house for his speeches, and when he spoke at Zellerbach Hall for the annual Oppenheimer Lecture in Physics, two thousand showed up to see him.

“If you are that great a physicist,” said science writer, Berkeley professor emeritus, and old friend of Hawking’s Timothy Ferris, “you should be a rockstar.”

In honor of the great physicist, we sifted through his Berkeley lectures to find some of his most memorable quotes. Please enjoy.

— Krissy Eliot and Chinwe Oniah
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