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On perspective

"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."

— From an interview with Ken Campbell on Reality on the Rocks: Beyond Our Ken, 1995

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On us

“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.”

— As quoted in the Daily Telegraph, 2001

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On viruses

“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.”

— At a speech at Macworld Expo in Boston, 1994

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On frustrating theories

“My attitude--I would paraphrase Goering--is that when I hear of Schrödinger's cat, I reach for my gun.”

— In a conversation with Timothy Ferris, 1983

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On black holes

"If you jump into a black hole, your mass energy will be returned to our universe but in a mangled form which contains the information about what you were like but in a state where it can not be easily recognized. It is like burning an encyclopedia. Information is not lost, if one keeps the smoke and the ashes. But it is difficult to read."

— Information Loss in Black Holes, 2005

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On boundaries

“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?”

— As quoted in The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986) by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler

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On the end of time

“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.”

— The Beginning of Time, 1996

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On chaos

“Disorder increases with time because we measure time in the direction in which disorder increases. You can’t have a safer bet than that!”

— A Brief History of Time, 1988

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On dimensions

“Evolution has ensured that our brains just aren't equipped to visualise 11 dimensions directly. However, from a purely mathematical point of view it's just as easy to think in 11 dimensions, as it is to think in three or four.”

— As quoted in the Guardian, 2005

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On life on Earth

“The life we have on Earth must have spontaneously generated itself. It must therefore be possible for life to generate spontaneously elsewhere in the universe.”

— From an appearance on Alien Planet, on the Discover Channel, 2005

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On aliens

“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.”

— From an appearance on Naked Science: Alien Contact on the National Geographic Channel, 2004

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

— From a TED Talk, 2008

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On God

“We are each free to believe what we want and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization. There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.”

— From Curiosity on the Discover Channel, 2011

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On the laws of attraction

"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."

-- at the Sydney Opera House, April 25, 2015

Published:Caption:Photo:Jemal Countess/Getty Images
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